Inventing management amidst the unforeseen

The African postal fraternity came together on 18th January 2021 to celebrate the 41st Pan-African Post Day. The event was built around the theme: “The Post: Building Resilience in Times of Crisis”, whereby the Pan-African Postal Union (PAPU) sought to encourage all postal stakeholders to become more agile and resilient in dealing with the health crisis currently plaguing the planet with a view to preparing them to become proactive in the face of similar crises that may arise in the future.

Commemorative activities of the 2021 edition included delivery of the PAPU Day message by the Secretary General and an online conference on the theme: “Remittances in the COVID-19 pandemic era and future prospects: The case of the African Post”. In attendance were the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and PAPU Member States. The latter shared their experiences on remittances during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In his introductory remarks, the PAPU Secretary General advocated that in dealing with the host of consequences engendered by the pandemic, officials must take multifaceted initiatives to cushion the shock, protect the postal industry and strengthen its capacity to anticipate and manage similar crises in the future. In this regard, Mr. Younouss Djibrine reiterated the Post’s mission and role as a vital player in times of crisis and therefore urged postal workers to craft new management models, including communication plans, based on an ongoing analysis of potential problems that could lead to new avenues for growth and sustainable development. “In other words, the overarching aim is to develop a full-fledged and multidimensional “Strategic Watch” that incorporates the commercial, competitive, legal, fiscal, economic, financial, scientific, technological, social and societal facets,” he added. In his closing remarks, the Secretary General concluded that “PAPU will continue to play its pivotal role in building A SINGLE AFRICAN POSTAL TERRITORY at all times and in all circumstances, as its contribution towards achieving the common and constant aspiration of Africa’s people for inclusive and sustainable socioeconomic development, a pre-eminent objective of the newly-established Continental Free Trade Area.”

Taking the floor, the Deputy Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), Mr. Pascal Clivaz, announced that the volume of remittances sent by migrant workers to their respective countries is expected to decline by 14% in 2021 compared to pre-COVID-19 levels in 2019. This is due to low economic growth and employment levels in migrant-receiving countries, low oil prices and currency depreciation in remittance-sending countries against the US dollar. These factors have all led to the vast majority of financial service experts and analysts to propose one solution to manage and minimize the impact of future crises, namely the digitalization of financial services. He proceeded to report that, within the framework of the Regional Development Plan for Africa, the UPU is partnering with regional stakeholders, including the AU and PAPU, to assist African countries particularly in the area of financial inclusion through knowledge, financing and technical assistance.

On his part, The African Union representative, Mr. Christian Minoungou, reiterated the continental organization’s commitment and contribution to the development of Africa’s postal sector, calling on governments to come up with effective strategies to support the Post at all times.

Thereafter, Mr. Hans Boon of the International Fund for Agricultural Development underscored the fact that the pandemic had severely impacted remittances. In this respect, he made three recommendations, namely, the need for a holistic, structured and shared approach by governments and their respective designated postal operators; commitment by governments with a clear strategy; and finally, proactiveness of postal organizations and networks.

Another salient item on the agenda of the online conference was the presentations by Tanzania and Congo Republic who shared their experiences in managing remittances during the COVID-19 pandemic era.