Post office e-commerce hub in the works

SAPO is looking to become SA's e-commerce hub.
SAPO is looking to become SA's e-commerce hub.

The partnership between the South African Post Office (SAPO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) will establish SA as one of three e-commerce hubs in Africa.

This is the word from telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele. The minister was explaining the rationale behind the SAPO and UPU union.

Despite legacy issues with the country's national postal service, UPU decided to approach the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) to determine how to set up a legacy project that will see three major e-commerce platforms on the African continent.

Cwele explained that SA is the first country selected for the project, with two other nations in East and North Africa to be announced at a later stage.

The minister says UPU came and assessed the SAPO infrastructure and was very satisfied.

"E-commerce is a growing business; it is an enabling environment for citizens, SMMEs and companies to place the products they want to sell online. There are three elements you need for successful transactions for e-commerce, and that is an efficient courier system, which the post office has; there must be a link with international transport players, as well as a reliable transaction platform."

Data from Statista shows revenue in SA's e-commerce market will amount to $3.13 million in 2018, and is further expected to exhibit strong growth over the next four years.

While detailing the DTPS' performance during the last two quarters of the 2017/2018 financial year, SAPO officials said they expect e-commerce to generate revenue of R100 million, with growth on the continent running at 20% and with total sales of R2 billion.

Cwele also stated the e-commerce market is an opportunity SAPO is pursuing. "We are very glad that it is our own internal capacity as DTPS that has developed this solution for the e-commerce platform."

According to him, once the department gets funding or funding partners it will start rolling out the e-commerce partnership programme with UPU.

"This will assist our SMMEs to create digital platforms which enable them to trade in the global market. They key thing is that you must be able to deliver products in less than three days. If a person orders something, it must reach them in a short space of time."

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