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How NIPOST struggles with ICT to stay afloat

With the emerging challenges facing postal services as a result of emerging developments in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) is…

With the emerging challenges facing postal services as a result of emerging developments in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) is struggling to remain relevant.

The postal agency is confronted by many new competition and threats from technology.  With the growth in e-commerce that has made shopping online more convenient, even packages and parcels hitherto conveyed by post have become the forte of sundry courier services. Also, digital services of mails and other e-messaging channels on mobile phones or other devices have drastically reduced the number of letters sent through the post. So the old style of post offices is facing a bleak future.

The implication, according to a Lagos ICT expert, Miftah Naheem, is that only a postal service willing to adjust to the emerging reality can remain in business.

But the Post Master General of the Federation, Dr Ismail Adewusi, said NIPOST had sufficient assets to generate viable economic and commercial services.

Adewusi also said the NIPOST had been equipped to deliver financial services to remote areas in the country currently excluded by financial institutions.

He said the NIPOST still served useful purposes with its very wide network.

Adewusi said the global postal sub-sector had not remained the same since the introduction of information and communication technology; hence even the agency now makes use of it for service delivery.

He reiterated that ICT had brought new opportunities and threats, adding that the NIPOST had leveraged on the benefits of technology to develop itself.

“What is news, however, is the fact that today, the narrative has changed. The NIPOST as a responsive entity has taken advantage of ICT to enhance her operations and launch an array of new products and services for customers’ benefit. Of course, we can all attest to the fact that today, unlike what obtained in the pre-ICT days, digitally savvy customers can remain within the confines of their homes to track and trace their items, courtesy of the new digital platform we have aligned our operations with,” he said.

He further explained that in order to utilise ICT channels for effective service delivery, the NIPOST introduced into the postal market, some new game-changing digital products, which include POS electronic money transfer, e-commerce and logistics, address verification system (AVS) and Digital Addressing System (DAS), among other channels.

According to him, the NIPOST as a government agency has over 5,000 postal facilities across the country, where transactions take place daily.

“Our reach and physical presence in the nooks and crannies of the country made us one of the most visible federal institutions and the most preferred in the postal sub-sector for public and private business partnership.

“I want to seize this opportunity to assure you that we have redesigned and rearranged our mail routing systems to enhance the effectiveness of delivery of all categories of mail items in line with international best practice. In NIPOST, we are constantly aware that customers are our strength and greatest assets and deserve quality service delivery,” he stated.

Also speaking, the general manager, Department of Corporate Communications, Franklyn Alao, said the agencies was driven by ICT in all its operations.

He said ICT had brought about efficiency and improvement in the agency’s service delivery.

“Let me at this point correct the erroneous belief that advances in communications technology threaten the existence of the NIPOST. ICT rather opens opportunities to the agency. We are presently engaged and strengthening the adoption of the relevant ICT in all our post offices across the country,” he said.

He revealed that the agency had partnered with some e-commerce companies to provide value-added services to customers.

According to him, the NIPOST is working closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other relevant stakeholders to provide financial services to the unbanked and under-banked rural communities.

“To us, ICT is not a threat; it is re-engineering the agency to better serve the people, considering the fact that the society is fast changing and dynamic.

“Even if you say you are in the moon, with the help of ICT we can get there to deliver your parcels,’’ he said.

But many Nigerians, especially the youth, said they didn’t remember when last they sent letters or courier through the government’s postal agency.

Kabir Ajala, a Lagos-based secondary school leaver said he had not sent any message through NIPOST.

Ajala said he used email to send letters and private courier firms for parcels.

Chinwe Okogie, a trader at Aswani market in Lagos, said she would not use NIPOST to send goods to his customers.

Mrs Okogie claimed the country’s postal agency “doesn’t deliver on time and that is not good for the kind of business I do.”

Probably, this is why Adewusi said it would amount to self-delusion to pretend that there are no challenges facing the postal agency. He said it’s only in facing those challenges that they would be surmounted.



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