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Bridging the digital divide through telecoms: Postal Service role

By Ayo Alanamu

COVID -19 placed the world in crises, it rampaged across countries, and made our globalised world feel vulnerable, and at times, almost defenceless. Post and their partners in other economies had all faced impossible impacts with the declaration of a global pandemic; the business world took a new dimension.

The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) established on the 7th December 1977, celebrates every year its founding day to reflect and demonstrate the key role Information and Communications Technology (ICT) plays in the social and economic developments of Africa.

This year’s theme ‘’POST COVID 19: Role of Telecoms/ICT in the Resumption of socio-Economic Activities’’ is imperative because of the reality of the new normal.

Taking the whole gamut of communications including the postal service into consideration, it will be apt to conclude that telecommunication/digital advancement goes a long way to help situate and observe the social distancing protocols as the pandemic raged. The Post has played a critical role in uniting the people, providing essential services not only mails but also delivering other important services. This helped the citizens of the world to possibly curb the transmission of the virus.

Telecommunications has completely transformed how people communicate and navigate their personal and professional lives. With an ever- present need for humans to connect and communicate, this industry is slated to continue its upward growth.

Surfing the internet, placing phone calls, e-mailing and text messaging, plus ordering goods online, and the delivery to the last man via courier services, either of private courier or government owned courier companies, are all added as part of the complete communication chain.

As a result of this, Telecommunication becomes one of the most crucial infrastructures for protection. From natural disasters to military needs, there is a wide spectrum of institutions that depend on telecoms to provide safety.

Postal Service has continued to evolve and with steady expansion of products and services, has found its place in the socio- economy space of communication. In later years after its creation, the Post has stepped into many frontiers that keep adding up its relevance to the mechanism of National and Economic development.

Communication is key to national development and it is largely premised on citizens fundamental right, economic buoyancy, rise in per capita income, rule of law, and above all, conflict resolution and security. By these templates and several other parameters, the Postal Service role has been noble.

When the scrupulous element took to the Post in the 90s to perpetuate Advance Fee Fraud, otherwise known as ‘’419’’, using it as conduit to send tonnes of documents aimed at defrauding unsuspecting Nigerians, it raised alarm, intercepted a large portion of such documents to the credit of the country.

Telecommunications plays a critical role in communities, particularly remote regions where modern banking has not been able to reach. A recent study undertaken by Universal Postal Union, the specialised agency of the United Nations, revealed that despite the financial inclusion and deepening of teledensity efforts of various governments in integrating their citizens into the global financial networking, there are still well over half a million locations in Africa that should offer financial services using telecommunication to the teeming world population, no matter how remotely located. This is where the postal service comes in offering its vast spaces at the Post Offices to accommodate this service.

In the projection of any developing postal service, it ought to rely so much on telecommunication and information technology to make a Post Office modern, becoming a one stop- shop, where it can reintroduce mini banking services, e-government services, where citizen can access a number government services such as applying and collection of drivers’ licences, international passports, national ID cards etc. This will no doubt boost the economy.

Information Technology and the ability to connect and communicate is a fundamental part of how a society operates today’s digital ecosystem, to transform the business world, and foster operational efficiency that stimulates steady growth.

In today’s business world, many organisations employ cross functional teams to tackle new products, corporate initiatives, marketing campaigns etc. With telecom service, these teams are equipped with the technology necessary to collaborate from any location, allowing for optimal productivity, enhanced connectivity and increased teamwork.

Driven by competition and customers demand, postal operators use advanced technology for different purposes, above all to improve operational efficiency and to offer new products and services. In particular, consumer demand for faster handling of orders and more convenient delivery is driving change in the post and technological innovations are enabling e-retailers and postal operators to respond to these requirements.

In the parcel and other e-commerce item delivery business, Last-mile delivery has improved with technology such as Parcel Dimensional Scanner for signatures scanning, which have added additional security for consumers.

Educational institutions now leverage telecommunication to deliver long distance or remote education. Equally certificates are being requested online, are centre quest by West African Examination Council (WAEC) on Nigerian Postal Service to help it deliver certificates to recipients who would have requested for their certificates without having to travel long distances.

Telecommunication has become the foundation for businesses, government communities and families to seamlessly connect and share information. Therefore technology has played an overall positive role for postal services and acts as an enabler and a drive for better services for consumers. Looking ahead, technology has become and more important for postal services, and further positive benefits are expected.

Ayo Alanamu of the Corporate Communication, NIPOST Headquarters Abuja

About author

Articles

A prolific writer of about two decades standing experience
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