A major restructuring that will modernise the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) is on the way. It is contained in the Postal Service Reform Plan (PSRP), which was recently unveiled by Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications, when he launched two documents, namely the “Restructuring and Modernising Nigerian Postal Service,” and the “NIPOST Vision 2020,” in Abuja.
The objectives of the PSRP, according to Shittu, are: the establishment of low cost universal postal service that would link the whole country through a solid communication medium; the provision of a safe and efficient postal service that is sustainable and able to keep pace with developments in the rest of the world; the introduction of private sector participation in the development of the postal service into a commercially viable conglomerate; and the creation of a convenient means of savings mobilization and payment/ funds transfer system for the entire country through the postal network.
The proposed reform will also unbundle NIPOST to profit–driven subsidiaries such as; NIPOST Digital Financial Services Limited (PostBank); NIPOST Property &Development Company Limited; NIPOST Transport and Logistics Limited; NIPOST Merchandizing Limited (e-Commerce); and NIPOST General Services Support Limited (e-Government).
The minister disclosed that a steering committee for NIPOST reformation has been inaugurated. Some members of the committee are Arc. Sonny Echono, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communications, as chairman, Bisi Adegbuyi, Post Master General of NIPOST, as vice-chairman, Akeem Yusuf, special adviser, Digital Resources, to the Minister of Communication, as secretary and one representative each from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
The ministry is waiting for the passage of the NIPOST Reform Bill for the restructuring to commence in full swing. The passage of the bill would enable NIPOST to reinvent itself by embracing transformational strategies in its operations. It intended to repeal the Nigerian Postal Service Act, Cap. N127, LFN, 2004, if enacted. It will also contain comprehensive provisions on the development and regulation of postal services and related matters. The bill seeks to restructure the Nigerian Postal Service to a body corporate under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, with its own seal and perpetual succession.
While the passage of the bill is being awaited, NIPOST has started implementing specific processes that would culminate to its modernisation. One of these is the implementation of the Mail for Every House Initiative” (MEHI), which will enable NIPOST to scale the barriers posed by wrong addressing system in the country to increase postal delivery from the current 20 percent to 70 and 90 percent in 2019 and 2020 respectively. According to NIPOST, “only five per cent of mails get properly addressed with the postcode, hampering the efforts of NIPOST to improve its quality of service.”Moreover, only 478,000 boxes are available in the post offices.
The vehicle to drive the MEHI project is the “what3words address,” which “is an innovative global addressing system that is designed to help the postal service increase the number of homes it is capable of delivering parcels to. The “what3word address” system divided the world into 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares, each having a unique three-word address. This meants that every home and business in Nigeria has a simple and accurate address that is easy to remember and to use.
Bisi Adegbuyi, postmaster general, expressed satisfaction that NIPOST was collaborating with the “what3words address” to adopt the modern addressing solution. “Better addressing is a key to NIPOST’s agenda, which aims to transform, innovate, and deliver more services to more people all over the country,” he said, adding that “the what3words API that was launched in 2013 is being integrated by business, applications and services across the world in a wide variety of sectors. It is also used by individuals via the free what3words app.” It is available in 14 languages and equipped with built-in error detection. It is available through a free mobile app and API integration. The system even works offline, without a data connection.
Chris Sheldrick, Chief Executive Officer, and Co-founder of “what3words,” said with a rapidly growing e-commerce ecosystem, Nigeria is an exciting country to work with. “Postal services have a critical role in building a strong economy and NIPOST are firmly focused on the future, and are taking steps to modernise and grow their capacity and range of services,” Sheldrick said.
By Dike Onwuamaeze