In mid-May Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta Kenya) began a new strategic partnership with African ICT company Taz Technologies.
The partnership was one of the most significant developments to be undertaken by the Kenyan postal service in recent history, according to Patrick Omulo, General Manager of Courier Services at Posta Kenya.
The partnership sees the two companies working together to ensure postal items, such as mail and parcels at the post office, are delivered to customers’ doorsteps. Posta Kenya is now integrated into the Taz delivery system, which is called ‘Tap-A-Delivery’ and is a real-time e-commerce courier service app. Alongside Posta Kenya, it works with the likes of Uber and other logistics and taxi companies to carry out last mile delivery across the country.
“The e-commerce market is growing fast in Kenya,” says Omulo. “We are seeing high demand for delivery to homes, which has been accelerated further by the Covid-19 pandemic. To meet this demand and align with the market Posta Kenya decided to embark on this partnership, which means we can now provide an efficient door-delivery service to the people of Kenya.”
According to Posta Kenya, the partnership was borne out of a past collaboration with Taz, which resulted in the launch of the MPost platform – a technology that enables any mobile phone user to transform their smartphone into a mobile post office and access postal services. In addition to enabling users to send and receive mail, the platform allows customers to pay for goods and to send and receive money via e-banking services using the M-Pesa mobile money service.
Following the launch of MPost, Taz saw an increasing number of customers requesting last-mile home delivery and as a result launched Tap-A-Delivery. Under the new partnership, Posta Kenya customers will now be able to use the app to schedule deliveries, plan for recurring deliveries and arrange mail pickup for delivery. “The partnership has only been up and running for a few months, but it has already been very successful, and we are seeing a lot of customers enjoying the service,” adds Omulo.
The perfect partners
Although Posta Kenya has its own delivery network, prior to the Taz partnership it only carried out last-mile home delivery for customers using its Expedited Mail Service. Other mail had to be collected from post offices by customers. To be able to offer its own national doorstep delivery service, the postal operator would have needed to make huge investments in infrastructure.
“We would also need more vehicles and staff to handle these volumes and before any of this could become operational we would need to go through all the government’s bureaucratic processes,” explains Omulo. “It would’ve taken years to achieve what we have already achieved through our partnership with Taz. Forming such partnerships means we are able to scale services quickly and efficiently to meet the needs of our customers.”
Following the partnership with Taz, Posta Kenya has now teamed up with Taxiye for last mile delivery to rural areas. “Tap-A-Delivery operates mainly within the major cities in Kenya, so we also needed a partner to carry out last mile delivery further afield,” explains Omulo. “Taxiye has a wider network so can fulfil this purpose. Our aim is to serve each and every person from the post office.”
According to Omulo, the partnerships will also help Posta Kenya deliver its mandate of providing key Government of Kenya services. “One arrangement that we have with the government is to ensure that all passports in Kenya are delivered to the door – instead of requiring customers to pick them up from their local collection office,” he explains. “This service represents huge numbers of passports to be delivered so the partnerships have helped us increase capacity to support this.
“We also carry out similar services for driving licenses and vehicle log-books, among other things,” Omulo continues. “For passports, for example, customers register and provide their biometric information with immigration, but after that the entire service is handled by Posta Kenya. Once the passport is ready to be delivered, we connect with last mile delivery providers, such as Taxiye and Tap-A-Delivery, to deliver them to doors.”
A healthy future
Posta Kenya also plays a key role in supporting the health sector to help with the provision of universal health services throughout the country. The postal operator has a partnership with, for example, state corporation Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), which has a mandate to procure, warehouse and distribute drugs and medical supplies to health institutions. As part of this partnership Posta Kenya supports KEMSA to deliver medicines to hospitals around the world and has helped with the distribution of Covid-19 supplies and vaccines.
“We also have a partnership with the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS), which has a mandate to collect, test, process and distribute blood and blood products to all transfusing hospitals in Kenya,” explains Omulo. “Posta Kenya helps efficiently distribute blood between hospitals and institutions.”
Posta Kenya plans to continue with its partnership approach to support growth and to meet the needs of its customers and the government. It also plans to build more support for the e-commerce sector. “We already work closely with the leading e-commerce platform in Kenya – Jumia,” says Omulo. “Jumia has been able to tap more customers through this partnership by bringing services closer to them through Posta Kenya’s vast network of post offices countrywide, and also to homes through the Taz and Taxiye partnerships. We are now looking to partner with international e-commerce players, such as AliExpress, and we are in discussions with other regional postal organizations in Africa so together we can improve the movement of goods throughout the continent.”
Posta Kenya also provides payment services through both domestic and international payment and money transfer solutions. Currently, the process can be done either manually at a post office or via an online application, which has been developed alongside the Universal Postal Union’s Postal Technology Centre. “We are now looking to come up with a solution to better support Kenyan’s in this area by offering a mobile phone payment service,” adds Omulo. “We hope that this service will be up and running in the next few months.”This article first appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Union Postale.