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Global postal body chief says mail services
to stay despite digital revolution

NAIROBI (Xinhua) --  The head of a global postal organization said on Tuesday he expects the mail services to remain relevant despite stiff competition amid a digital revolution.

Bishar Hussein, director general of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), said that postmen and women still play an important role serving certain communities and ensuring that all citizens have access to a variety of services, including people living in remote areas, on isolated islands and in disaster-prone areas.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night; in times of war and in times of peace dissuades these couriers from completing their chosen rounds,” Hussein said in Nairobi at a ceremony marking the 144th World Post Day.

“Until and unless one discovers how to deliver a parcel through the iPad, internet or smart phone, the post is here to stay and cannot be obsolete,” said Hussein who is Kenya’s former postmaster general.

He said the more than 600,000 postal outlets globally are used by private citizens and businesses to send letters, parcels and remittances and also conduct financial transactions even in some of the world’s remotest places.

The advent of the Internet and other digital services have led to a steady decline in postal services’ core operation of delivering letters and parcels to recipients. Postal services have responded by diversifying into new service areas to broaden their revenue base.

“In the current digital age, the Post has positioned itself as a major player in global commerce with its ‘one global network’ approach that makes it an obvious delivery partner for businesses selling online,” said Hussein.



Kenya to host regional e-commerce postal hub

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya Postal Corporation will host an eastern Africa regional e-commerce hub, a government official said on Tuesday.

Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology Joe Mucheru said the hub, which will serve Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi national postal services, will help strengthen the operations of the postal corporations in the region.

The initiative aims at establishing an integrated, inclusive and innovative e-commerce ecosystem provided by postal operators through online e-commerce platforms, Mucheru said in a statement issued during celebrations marking the 144th World Post Day.

“The initiative will greatly boost local and regional e-commerce and enable Kenya tap into the opportunity whose global value is estimated to rise to 2.36 trillion dollars by 2022,” he added.

Francis Wangusi, director general of Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), said the country was identified to host the hub because it is strategically located, has the busiest international airport, deep seaport and one of the highest up-take of internet and mobile telecommunication infrastructure.

The initiative will first strengthen the operational efficiency of the national postal network for effective international exchanges, Wangusi said.

“The e-commerce takes the place of one of the main drivers for the delivery business in the postal sector filling the gap caused by the letter volumes decline,” Wangusi said.

Postmaster General Daniel Kagwe observed that the corporation is re-inventing itself by taking advantage of ICT to create attractive innovative services.

He added that the corporation is also working toward a global partnership on e-commerce with Jersey Post and Amazon Web Services, which will be signed before the end of 2018. 


Chinese cell phones make a hit in Kenya’s rural areas

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Chinese-made cell phones are now wildly popular in Kenya’s rural areas due to their multitude of functions and low cost.

Chinese brands like Fero, X-tigi and Xgm are little known in urban areas like Nairobi, but these low cost feature phones have taken over the countryside. Several Chinese cell phones with a pricetag of 8 to 25 U.S. dollars are affordable to residents in Kenya’s rural areas where incomes in general are low.

Functions like radio, flashlight, camera and the internet make the phones a hit in the countryside because they help local residents enjoy a similar experience as if being in the city, home to more expensive models.

Joseph Shikono, a motorbike taxi rider in western Kenya’s Kakamega district, is the proud owner of a 15-dollar Chinese-made phone.

“With this phone, I access all social media sites,” he said. “This is what I can afford and it is serving me well,” Shikono said.

Like Shikono, a majority of the riders in vast upcountry towns are using similar Chinese-made phones.

“This phone does not consume much time because it does not have many applications like high-end smart phones,” said Beatrice Agutu, a resident of Busia, on the border of Kenya and Uganda.

Agutu added that she charges her phone twice a week as the battery lasts quite long. She also listens to music with it.

Unlike other foreign manufacturers that generally concentrate on high-end phones, Chinese manufactures cover all kinds of segments—low, middle and high-end.

Earnest Manuyo, a business management lecturer at Pioneer Institute in Nairobi, said that the bulk of phone makers have ignored the mass market, comprised of the rural population and urban poor, who live in slums.

“Many Chinese manufacturers have not ignored this segment including those who make expensive phones like Tecno and Oppo,” Manuyo said. “This is a plus for them as they have cemented their dominance in a market least talked about.”


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