International Organization for Migration–UPU joint information meeting for donors

Speech by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Geneva, Switzerland, 15 October 2014

I would like to thank the IOM and its Director General William Lacy Swing, with whom we struck up this partnership between our organisations.

The Universal Postal Union has worked closely with the IOM for several years. Last year we had the pleasure of jointly opening an international conference organised by the UPU on the role of Posts in financial inclusion for development.

This event gave us the opportunity to discuss a number of common challenges and objectives, in the light of which we gave a new dimension to our partnership and pooled our resources to provide concrete solutions to our member countries.

Today, with this joint project, our organisations are going to turn words into action.

Through the migration and development project, we aim to combine our competitive advantages and contribute tangibly, on the ground, to economic and social development. Our efforts are fully in line with the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and, in particular, the need to forge partnerships for development.

Why designate postal services as agents of migration and development? Quite simply, because of their unique and multifaceted nature. With more than 600,000 post offices in the world, Posts have a very broad presence, encompassing even the most remote areas. 

Worldwide, they provide physical services, logistics, electronic, and communications services, government services, and a whole host of financial services—from money transfers to loans—accessible to everyone, without exception.

Moreover, thanks to the UPU, Posts are interlinked by a vast physical, electronic, and financial network covering the entire planet. Not a single economic player can boast such assets.

In the context of migration and development, the numerous and unique strengths of Posts can be leveraged to provide tailored solutions for both migrants and their families at home. This is the main aim of the project which we will present to you today.

The project is distinctive in that it brings together all aspects of the postal business to meet the challenges posed by migration and its economic impact on development.

All too often nowadays the various aspects of development are considered in isolation, with little effort made to identify links between them.

By contrast, in our project - which we will discuss in more detail later on - each component strengthens the next and responds to challenges identified by both migrants themselves and the country concerned by the project, namely Burundi.

Our goal is to meet the needs of the diaspora and their families for:

  • Lower money transfer costs;
  • Better telecommunications; and
  • Access to products from Burundi.

The project also meets development objectives in the migrants’ country of origin:

  • Financial inclusion of those excluded from the banking system;
  • Access to telecommunications services; and
  • Access to financial services adapted to migrants’ communities of origin and in particular agricultural cooperatives, which are vital to the economic fabric of the country.

Why Burundi? Because the situation there is particularly suited to this kind of project: the needs identified by the Burundian diaspora, a Post that is committed to meeting the expectations of the population and is already active in rural development, and authorities that are intent on involving the Post in their poverty-reduction strategy.

We are convinced that this project will provide a great many benefits and contribute to the attainment of our development objectives.

These are the reasons that we, the UPU and the IOM, have combined our expertise and efforts to develop this innovative and integrated approach which we will be presenting to you today.

If the project is to be successfully implemented and genuinely beneficial to development, it will require both backing and commitment.

I hope that by the end of this initial meeting we will have convinced you of the importance of this project and its great potential in the economic development of Burundi and other countries.

Indeed, if this concept proves viable, we hope to replicate it elsewhere.

Thank you for your attention.