On 9th October 1874, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) was born in Switzerland. Today, as Uganda marks its 57th independence anniversary, the UPU, an organ of the United Nations, turns 145 years old. The World Post Day, which is celebrated on the day UPU was established, and coincides with Uganda’s Independence Day, is a celebration of the positive role played by postal services in the world. The day has been celebrated since the UPU Congress in Japan in 1969.
This year’s theme, ‘Delivering Development is Delivering Progress’, speaks to the Post’s resilience and dynamism in the face of changing technology, as well as its impact on socio-economic development.
The UPU’s key role is to maintain a global postal territory and to establish rules for international mail exchange among member states. UPU also provides technical assistance aimed at stimulating mail-volume growth to aid the socio-economic development of nations.
Uganda became a member of UPU in 1901 and has served as part of the organisation – the Council of Administration (CA) twice; 2012-2016 and 2016-2020.
Postal services in Uganda are provided by the Uganda Post Ltd (UPL), the Designated Operator (DO), which is wholly owned by the Government of Uganda. In addition, there are 23 licensed private courier operators.
Writing for this occasion, UPU Director General Mr. Bishar Abdirahman Hussein, expressed satisfaction that the Post has kept pace with fast changing technology to ensure “One world. One postal network.”
He observed that for 145 years, the Universal Postal Union has promoted solutions for the international postal sector, in the process, transforming the entire mail supply chain: from acceptance, through sorting and finally to delivery.
Contrary to the perception that postal services have been relegated to the periphery by technological advances, Mr. Hussein pointed out in his statement that postal services have themselves harnessed technology and are thriving as a result.
“From manual to mechanized operation, the Post continues to innovate, using modern technology to optimize sorting and delivery and improve the supply chain from beginning to end. By embracing modern developments such as virtual reality, the Internet of Things, blockchain and robotic technologies, among others, the Post is today creating greater flexibility in customer service through the most advanced interfaces. We are now closer to our customers than ever before,” he wrote.
Mr. Hussein added that the Post is a key component in helping to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030). In relation to that, he further underscored the role of the Post in development, citing the 1.5 billion people worldwide that use its financial services, among others.
One of the key advantages of the postal sector compared with other service sectors is its extensive network and global reach. A postal item can be sent from almost anywhere in the world and delivered to almost anywhere in the world. This enormous logistical capacity constitutes the backbone of the postal sector and its contribution to socio-economic development.
The Postal sector in Uganda
The Postal industry in Uganda continues to experience growth. From a single Postal Operator, Uganda now boasts of 23 post and courier operators, linking Ugandans to the global postal network.
The conducive investment and regulatory environment has attracted heavy investment in the industry, hence granting consumers a diversity of services. Uganda Communications Commission, in implementing its regulatory mandate, has promoted healthy competition, encouraged innovation leading to a diversity of quality products and services by the operators. UCC has further promoted growth in the postal industry through;
a) Review of the licensing framework to introduce the “Intercity” license that enables courier providers to deliver mail between towns and cities.
b) Conducting regular Quality of Service Assessments to ensure that the services are delivered in line with the required standards.
c) Conducting network verification checks to ensure that postal services are accessible to Ugandans through various postal outlets and agents.
d) Regular price reviews in the markets to ensure that posts and courier services are competitively priced and affordable.
e) Empowerment of consumers to enable them make informed choices, and management of consumer complaints when the consumers are not satisfied with the remedies provided by their providers.
Postal policy and post code
The Ministry of ICT and National Guidance has championed the following interventions with UCC participation:
- Review of the National Postal policy (2012) to ensure that it addresses industry and technological developments.
- Development of the Draft National Post-code project and Addressing System Policy 2019. This policy is geared at establishing the foundation to enable the roll out of a national postcode and addressing system in Uganda that will further facilitate the delivery of goods and services to Ugandans though standardizing the addressing system in Uganda. This will facilitate last mile delivery of various services.
UCC support to the sector
The Postal industry in Uganda is transforming with the emergence of e-commerce and changing consumer needs. In support of this transformation, various stakeholders have stepped in to reinforce the Designated Operator’s quest to enhance their network and provide efficient operations.
Uganda Communications Commission, through its Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF), has supported the renovation and automation of selected post offices to support the operator in integrating technology in its operations so as to become more efficient. These revamped post offices are also available to the public to access e-government services. So far, the following post offices have been revamped and ICT equipment provided; Kitgum, Kasese, Mubende, Moroto
Further work is expected in eight (08) other district post offices; Arua, Busia, Entebbe Main, Gulu, Hoima, Lira, Luwero and Masaka.
UPU support to Uganda Post Limited
The UPU has provided the following support to the Uganda Posts Limited;
i) CCTV equipment installed at the sorting centre and General Post Office (GPO) to improve on the security of mail and curb mail violation.
ii) A stamp-cancelling machine to expedite mail processing in the sorting centre.
iii) Post Office boxes and locks installed at Clock Tower Post Office.
iv) Counter automation software to enable tracking and tracing of mail items.
v) 51 motorcycles to improve countrywide end-to-end delivery by increasing the frequency of collection and delivery of mail from and to the main office of exchange, as well as from all the DPOs and significant agent offices to the recipients’ boxes.
vi) Support towards the development and modernization of Postal Financial Services. This includes; 20 computers, 2 servers, 1 firewall (spam and virus blocker) and 20 USB powered speakers.
vii) A mail delivery van for mail conveyance to “hard-to-reach” areas.
viii) An X-ray screening machine to detect prohibited and dangerous goods.
ix) Extension and Migration of IPS to 48 District Post Offices. We have acquired 64 barcodes, 54 receipt printers, 48 solar panels, 2 servers, 64 computers and 64 delivery scanners.
LICENSED POSTAL AND COURIER OPERATORS
National Operator: Uganda Post Limited
Diplomatic Post Office: Embassy of the United States of America Kampala
International: New Times Express Limited; DHL International Uganda Limited; Skynet worldwide Express Uganda Limited; Aramex Uganda Limited; Pax Transporters Uganda Limited (FEDEX); Flight in Time Uganda Ltd
Regional: G4S Security Uganda Limited; Easy Coach Limited; Monitor Publications Uganda Limited/Nation Couriers; Mash Bus Services
Domestic: Mitchell cotts Uganda Ltd; K.K. Coaches Limited; Homeland Courier Services; Multifreight Express Uganda Limited; Big Orange Uganda Limited(SGA); Link Bus Courier Services; Giraffe Courier Services Limited; SM Cathan Logistics Limited; Prime Couriers Ltd; Caryn Investments Ltd
Intercity: Mewa Excel Courier Services