Postal services have changed dramatically as global trade and technology have evolved, making the UPU’s role of facilitating global communications more relevant than ever, as stated in the new Abidjan Postal Strategy and UPU’s development cooperation policy 2022-2025. The newly published UPU Regional Development Plans are designed to help the UPU fulfil this role.“Governments must provide the necessary enabling environment and ensure that universal postal services are maintained, while postal operators around the world must adapt to the new environment and meet the evolving demands of society and the market through structural reforms, innovative services and constant modernization,” stated in the Abidjan World Postal Strategy.
With this new strategy come the Abidjan cycle’s Regional Development Plans, through which the UPU will focus its efforts on activities specific to each region.
For the Africa Region, the plan centers on three aspects: capacity building, consultations with countries to better understand their needs, and procurement assistance for countries facing difficulties, such as natural disasters or armed conflict, said Amadou Bello, UPU Coordinator, Africa Region and LDCs, SIDS and LLDCs.
“African countries made progress,” Bello said. Some have adopted solutions in e-commerce or digitalization, yet it’s not enough. “We have to push them to be more innovative, because now, if you are not innovative, you cannot survive.”
For the Europe and Central Asia Region, this cycle’s spotlight on cooperation with governments and regulators is an important shift. “Previously, our main focus was on assisting designated operators, but this underestimated the role and importance of governments and regulators in the development of the postal market and in strengthening the role of the postal network in socio-economic development,” explained Andrei Soudakov, Coordinator, Europe and CIS Region and Capacity Development.
Projects include e-commerce development, postal financial services and payment readiness for e-commerce, as well as digital transformation. The UPU will rebuild its presence in the field to ensure greater effectiveness and a higher level of interaction with regional stakeholders. It is also going to implement more than 70 activities, including consultancy missions, technical workshops, and individual training, Soudakov added.
In the Latin America and Caribbean Region, stakeholder involvement, starting with governments, will be equally crucial for supporting the postal sector as it implements the UN sustainable development goals, said Nicolás Bilhoto, Coordinator, Latin America, Caribbean and Postal Sector Modernization.
“Governments are key in implementing changes and improving the regulatory environment for the postal sector,” he said. Projects include e-commerce development and development of postal policies. In the Caribbean, improvements will be made in transportation and connectivity within the region.
The Asia-Pacific Region’s focus this cycle is capacity building for its 19 LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS by offering training and equipment, said Thakur Subhash Sinha, Coordinator, Asia-Pacific and South-South Cooperation. A million Swiss franc project has been rolled out to supply postal equipment to these countries. Projects in the region are under implementation to improve operations, human resource capabilities, digitization, diversification of services and environmental sustainability, among others.
Last but not least, in the Arab Region, the focus will be placed on helping countries be more resilient, utilizing different strategies for its main postal players, said Hashim Elhaj, Coordinator, Arab Region and Disaster Risk Management. “We’ve identified some countries in our region who are now in the game of e-commerce,” he explained. “We are offering other activities in postal financial payments to help member countries have a wide basket of services and be more resilient for disasters.”
The UPU will offer training workshops, send consultancy missions to help develop action plans, and, in least developed countries, possibly offer equipment, such as servers or computers, to improve the quality of service. Additionally, the region’s field presence will shift to include two offices with two regional experts rather than one office.
With these elaborated, needs-based and forward-looking plans, the UPU is well equipped for another four-year journey of innovation and collaboration in support of postal development and the broader sustainable development efforts.
To learn more about the UPU’s development cooperation work and access all the Regional Development Plans 2022-2025 in multiple languages, click here.