Signing Ceremony, 27th Universal Postal Congress in Abidjan, March 2019

Speech by the UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein at Signing Ceremony, 27th Universal Postal Congress in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 18 March 2019


Your Excellency the Vice-President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Hon. Daniel Kablan Duncan,

Your Excellency the Prime Minister of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Hon. Amadou Gon Coulibaly, 

Your Excellency the Minister of Digital Economy and the Post Office, Hon. Claude Isaac De

Distinguished Guests, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to attend this official ceremony announcing the 27th Universal Postal Congress on behalf of the Universal Postal Union. 

Mr. Vice-President, I wish to express my profound gratitude to the President, to your good self, and to the Government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire for the tremendous support they have shown not only to the UPU but also to the African postal sector.

Allow me to say that the UPU and Côte d’Ivoire share a long and rich partnership. We have tried twice before to hold a conference in the country. We were unlucky.

I am proud to say that, today, thanks to your diligence and your determination, and for the very first time in UPU’s 145-year history, we will hold the Universal Postal Congress in sub-Saharan Africa. 

I would also like to compliment you on the facilities, and the hotel accommodation the excellent relations we have at the technical and expert level, as well as between the various partners on this exciting venture. 

There have already been several on-site visits and I note that we are making excellent progress in the organization of the Congress.  

The UPU community is also excited about 2020 and the opportunities for the representatives of 192 countries to experience the country, its culture, and its vibrancy 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are coming to you at the right time! 

The Universal Postal Congress arrives in Africa at a transformational moment in the region’s history, a time of great opportunity and a time of great potential growth. 

Across Africa, the fair winds of technology are delivering sweeping changes to how posts work and to how commerce is conducted.   

More than ever, the digital economy is enabling posts to make ever-greater contributions to government purses and creating greater access to e-commerce, e-services, and other digital solutions.  

In Abidjan, we will have an opportunity to review the World Postal Strategy adopted in Istanbul in 2016 and to define a new strategy from 2021-2024. Our close partnership with the Pan-African Postal Union ensures that the strategy is also reflected in the Regional Development Plan for Africa, especially in the areas of touchstone subjects as digital transformation and postal payment services.  

To support African posts, we continue to roll out two projects—Ecom@Africa and Easy Export—to build connectivity across the e-commerce ecosystem. I congratulate Côte d’Ivoire on its decision to participate in the Ecom@Africa project alongside Tunisia, Morocco, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cameroon, and South Africa.

Easy-Export is connected to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly SDG Goal 8.3 on job creation and Goal 17.11 focusing on doubling exports for developing countries. 

The UPU is also strongly committed to this agenda not only as part of the UN system but also through the knowledge that Posts have an integral role to play in their achievement.     

Our strategy is to establish an export process that use the infrastructure of the postal operators to facilitate the export procedures for Micro and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

Our overall goal in Africa is threefold: 

-    Making governments sensitive to the enormous potential of posts in the e-commerce environment; 

-    Working closely with postal operators in logistics, IT and customs; and

-    Promoting the importance of addressing solutions to bridge the infrastructure gap that exists concerning e-commerce in Africa. 

The UPU is also at the forefront of delivering payment solutions for Posts through technical assistance programmes such as our Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility, or FITAF.

Through FITAF, the UPU is developing public-private partnerships between Fintechs and Posts to drive financial inclusion for businesses, as well as people, especially women.     

To achieve this worthy goal, the UPU has forged partnerships with international organizations such as Visa Inc. and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Some 1.5 billion people worldwide are using the financial services of postal operators and they are the second largest engine for financial inclusion after banks. 

But, we cannot afford to sit still, we must continue to build forward momentum and to work in partnership and cooperation to enhance the international postal sector. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I once again thank you on behalf of the Universal Postal Union for hosting the 27th Universal Postal Congress, and for all your hard work that will ensure its success. 

Together we can make the 2020 Universal Postal Congress a shining beacon for the advances and successes of the African postal community.

Thank you.