SIDS focus on inclusive digital development

Nearly 30 small island developing states (SIDS) gathered in Mahé, Seychelles, this week to participate in the UPU’s inaugural SIDS Postal Leaders Forum.

Hosted in partnership with the Seychelles Postal Service, this represents the first time that so many heads of posts and other high-level postal representatives will gather at once for a UPU-led event. Throughout the week, they have discussed the unique set of challenges they face due to their size and geography, opportunities they expect to harness in the coming years, and potential ways they can work together with each other, international organizations, and the wider postal sector to address them. Representatives from major airlines, major development partners, and UPU Consultative Committee members will attend.
Highlighting Postal Impact
In opening the event, speakers focused on the important role of the post in driving the socioeconomic development of their countries, noting that the modernization of postal services in SIDS would have a significant positive impact for their citizens.
“Let us use this opportunity to build relationships and partnerships that will unlock appropriate investments in the postal network to benefit businesses and communities. I believe this is key, given the central role that the Post can play in economic and social inclusion,” said UPU Deputy Director General Marjan Osvald. “There is no successful society without a successful postal sector.”
For his part, Seychelles’ Minister of Finance, National Planning, and Trade, Naadir Hassan, said, “It is indeed critical for us to seize the opportunities presented by ICT and to help our small posts become drivers behind the creation of an inclusive digital economy locally and globally.”
Driving Home the Essential Nature of Postal Services, Seychelles Postal Services CEO Mariella Buisson emphasized the postal services’ “vital role in connecting communities, facilitating trade, and enhancing communication within their respective unique island nations,” adding that they provide a diverse range of services — including retail, banking, philatelic, and government services — to communities.
Regional Perspective, Power of Partnerships
In particular, their discussions have focused on how digitalization, integration, and innovation can lead to sustainable growth for this group of countries that face distinct economic, environmental, and interconnectivity challenges.
The Forum’s first day took stock of the situation of SIDS in various regions — including the Caribbean, the Pacific, and those located in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Postal leaders had a widespread focus on accelerating the digital economy for their people. Representatives from each region were also united in their challenges: finding sufficient finance and human resources, as well as connectivity in the international logistics network.
Representatives from two key international development partners — the International Telecommunications Union and the African Union Commission — presented their strategies for targeting digital transformation in SIDS countries, underscoring the importance of collaboration. UPU Consultative Committee (CC) Chair Walter Trezek and several Committee members then underlined how the wider sector, including the private sector, could support SIDS with innovations.
A roundtable discussion calling together the Postmasters General of Belize, Cabo Verde, and Jamaica, with representatives from CC members Ship2MyID and Mail Americas, delved deeper into the importance of fostering productive partnerships to leverage expertise, resources, and knowledge sharing in the postal sector.
Securing and Connecting Networks
The Forum’s second day opened with a focus on digital readiness, opening with a presentation on how the UPU’s Integrated Postal Reform and Development Plan (IPDP) and Digital Transformation Assessment initiatives have and could help SIDS accelerate the digital transformation process with governments and other key stakeholders. Representatives from the UPU’s Postal Technology Center highlighted the potential IT solutions it could offer to facilitate the digital transformation process. Several Consultative Committee members — including Ship2MyID, Mail Americas ISITEC, and Stampfinity (Varius Systems) — provided insight into how they could support SIDS in this process.
Discussions then moved on to focus on special considerations and possible best practices for disaster risk management as climate change poses an ever more pressing threat to coastal and island states and, by extension, their postal networks and the people they serve.
The day wrapped up with a series of discussions posted on logistics and facilitating the postal supply chain, including security and transport. A special panel moderated by the UPU Deputy Director-General called together representatives from airlines — Air Seychelles, Etihad Airways, and Ethiopian Airlines — to discuss agreements and partnerships that could be forged to better connect SIDS postal networks internationally.
The forum will close on 7 March.
For more information on the SIDS Postal Leaders Forum, please visit: