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Cyber-savvy post offices to push growth

Last updated on: May 31, 2010 15:15 IST

Cyber-savvy post offices to push growth

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BS Reporter in Chennai/Hyderabad

Adoption of information and communication technology by post offices in different countries has contributed to inclusive growth and more responsive governance besides giving the postal sector a competitive edge, according to a study by the International Telecommunication Union and the Universal Postal Union.

The study, released at the World Telecommunication Development Conference being held in Chennai from Monday, also states that the use of ICT by posts has led to the growth of e-commerce and mobile commerce.

The studies were carried out in eight countries including Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Italy, Korea, Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation, which were at various stages of development.

They reveal that while success is rooted in the inherent strengths of the postal enterprises, ICT-based projects have, in turn, enriched and enabled them to improve the quality of their services and introduce new value-added activities.

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The Bhutan and Botswana studies show how the post office network and ICT can be combined to benefit the post and disadvantaged in rural and remote areas.

In Bhutan, ITU, UPU and the Indian government initiated a project with the Bhutan government, Bhutan Telecom and Bhutan Post as partners to connect isolated communities.

As part of the project, 38 telekiosks were set up in post offices to provide access to ICT facilities. Six of the telekiosks had no telecommunications connections and even electricity before the project. Telecommunication connectivity was provided by solar-powered very small aperture terminal stations linked to India's communications satellite, INSAT.

The villages near the six remote VSAT locations had previously been isolated from other parts of the country. Mail took five to seven days to reach residents, and the nearest telephone connection was two to seven days away on foot.

Thanks to the project, the villages now have access to telephone, fax, Internet and e-post.

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In Botswana, the government and Botswana Post have installed 49 kitsong (knowledge) centres offering Internet, fax, photocopying, desktop publishing, printing and digital photography services.

Following this, the income of post offices increased by an average of 25 per cent. The project has also led to greater computer literacy as these centres also provide training in the use of computers.

The Banco Postal project launched in Brazil, according to the report, has proved that ICT and posts can be successfully combined to improve efficiency competitiveness and profitability of posts. The initiative has also helped in achieving financial inclusion of 'unbanked' individuals.

When the Banco Postal project was launched in 2002, an estimated 45 million adults in the country were stated to be unbanked. The situation had improved now with 6,021 Banco Postal branches serving 8.8 million unbanked individuals.

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At the same time, some post offices that were losing money and in danger of being closed have become profitable with income earned from the introduction of the new value-added services.

Similarly, Poste Italaliane in Italy launched PosteMobile in 2007 to offer basic mobile services that has helped expansion of mobile banking and mobile commerce in the country.

Post office shopping launched in Korea in 1986 primarily to sell farming and fishing products has now become the country's premier speciality mall grossing an annual turnover of $135 million.

According to the report, Russian Post has implemented several important cyber projects, including the Cyber Money project. In 2009, Cyber Money registered 200 million transactions valued at $15 billion.

On the other hand, Saudi Post launched the Wasel service project in 2005 to establish an automated mail processing system from reception to delivery. Following this, delivery service in the country now is 99.99 per cent accurate.



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