Marking World Post Day, the head of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) said that for postal services to flourish in a globalized and ever-evolving communication landscape, electrical and Internet connectivity is essential, especially in developing countries, where only 32 per cent of the population has access to the Internet.
“Today, Posts are poised to play a very important role in a new wave of globalization being ushered in by the Internet, which calls for greater inclusion of citizens everywhere,” said Bishar A. Hussein, Director General of the UPU, the United Nations agency which focuses on regulations, standards, new technologies, innovation and business diversification of the industry.
In his message for the World Day, which is celebrated on 9 October, the anniversary of the establishment of the UPU in 1874, Mr. Hussein noted how postal services stimulate the global economy and improve livelihoods.
This year, 2014, is a milestone year as it also marks the 140th anniversary of the UPU, whose establishment helped postal services pave the way to globalized trade and commerce.
There are currently more than five million postal employees around the world and 663,000 post offices. And annually postal services process and deliver an estimated 368 billion letter-post items and 6.4 billion parcels. The hope is that with further investment, these services could reach rural communities as well.
“With half of the world’s population living in rural areas, the postal network is well placed to reach them. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 80 per cent of post offices are located in smaller cities and rural areas, where the majority of people live,” said Mr. Hussein.
According to the World Bank, post offices are the cheapest providers of remittance services, ahead of banks and money transfer operators. Posts are also the second biggest contributors to financial inclusion after banks, with one billion people holding a postal account.
“The global postal network is a tremendous asset for extending this digital reach – not only for the benefit of citizens and businesses, but also for governments, development agencies and other stakeholders looking for solutions to many of the challenges our world is grappling with,” said Mr. Hussein.
By modernizing postal services and investing in national in postal networks, governments can ensure that post offices make a major contribution to efforts to bring communication, financial, social and economic services to rural populations.
World Post Day was declared by the UPU Congress held in Tokyo, Japan in 1969. Since then, countries across the world participate annually in the celebrations, including by introducing and promoting new postal products and services.