By Emeka Aginam & Nnamdi Ojiego
The Postmaster General/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Postal Service, (NIPOST)Â Ibrahim Mori Baba has said that postal sector reform was committed to the procurement of appropriate technology for digital inclusion in the 21st century knowledge.
The Postmaster-General of NIPOST who spoke last week in Lagos during a stakeholders engagement meeting with Telecom CEOs inÂ Nigeria in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications told the audience in attendance that the post office network is arguably the best platform for achieving digital inclusion of the rural populace in Nigeria.
â€œWe are committed to establish an efficient nation-wide infrastructure for communication and distribution of public interest services for digital inclusion includingÂ basic financial services, IT services, Government services and other third party services on behalf of the whole population and the Nigerian economyâ€ he said.
For a digitalized NIPOST to be attractive for knowledge economy, he said thatÂ attractive postal outlets nationwide would offerÂ basic financial services includingÂ ATMs, POS, Pension payments, remittances, bill payments, Internet services : e-payments, e-commerce, surfing, e-learning, e- government, and many more.
While calling for adequateÂ power for effective operations, he said thatÂ VSATâ€™s communication backbone, 1,500 VSATâ€™s , 300 VSATâ€™s already deployed, counter automation, integrated postal system to support front office transactions and back office processes, application software to support postal, financial and other services are part of the capacity building for digital inclusion for NIPOST
Part of the reforms going on in NIPOST, he said is to establish a low cost universal postal service that provides a solid communications medium and link to all citizens,Â provide a safe and efficient postal service that is sustainable and keeps pace with developments in the rest of the world,Â introduce private sector participation and make the postal sector commercially viable andÂ create a convenient means of savings mobilization and payments and funds transfer system for the entire country through the postal networkAccording to him, there is currentlyÂ new concept of bundling of services in post offices network to provide public interest services including basic financial services: savings /deposits and withdrawals (either directly or on agency basis), utility bill payments, money transfer (acceptance and payment), travelers cheques, operation of giro account, among others.
Changing the phase of NIPOST for digital including , according to him will includeÂ ICT services: internet, email, eLearning, eCommerce, Government services: publicity and awareness campaigns, JAMB, NECO, Retail services: scratch card sales, among others.
He informed that currently 1,064 post offices are operated, scattered over 537 Local Governments, adding thatÂ about 3,000 agencies/postshops operate a small service portfolio
Currently 237 Local Governments, according to him do notÂ have even oneÂ post office, housing 25% of the Nigerian population At least one or more post offices should be available in each local government area of the federation, he said.