e-commerce Ecom@Africa initiative

Like the UPU Doha Postal Strategy (2013–2016), the Istanbul World Postal Strategy (2017–2020) recognizes the importance of e-commerce in today's postal services. The Post must not only be a player in e-commerce, but also contribute to the development of e-commerce through its pervasive network and multi-dimensional services. The Istanbul Congress instructed the International Bureau to develop projects and programmes which support and enhance the capacity of UPU designated operators in providing e-commerce services in an integrated fashion.

It is as a result of these directives that the UPU launched the Ecom@Africa initiative in November 2016 to position the postal network as a key enabler and facilitator of e-commerce. The initiative aims at establishing an integrated, inclusive and innovative e-commerce ecosystem provided by postal operators through online e-commerce platforms. These platforms use the postal network and products for cross-border logistics, deliveries, returns and payments. Though the initiative is targeted at the African region, it can be replicated in other regions where many citizens and businesses – especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and marginalized populations, such as young people and women – lack affordable access to e-commerce platforms and are shut out of the online market.

In terms of concept and approach, the initiative seeks first to strengthen the operational efficiency of the national postal network for effective international exchanges of postal items in view of the growing e commerce volumes, and later to connect and integrate with other platforms in the region and globally. The initiative begins with an assessment of the country's e-commerce conditions and the postal operator's operational readiness.

Through the initiative, the UPU helps to build a closer partnership between governments and national postal operators. It works with these two key stakeholders using its operational readiness for e commerce (ORE) methodology to assess and improve the capacity and operational efficiency of the national postal operator to support the development of e-commerce. The end result: any MSME located in a remote area of the African continent can sell its goods to a customer located anywhere in the world, and any buyer in Africa can purchase goods from wherever they like.

Private sector players and other stakeholders can also join the initiative by forming partnerships directly with the government or designated operator of a participating country. The UPU is currently at the national stage with several pilot countries, including Tunisia, South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire.

For more information about the Ecom@Africa initiative, see the FAQ published below.


The UPU Ecom@Africa initiative – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).