How Posta has refused to die

BY DAVID ONJILI

The common denominator with most of the country’s state corporations is their inability to adapt to fast changing technological advances the world has experienced.

This has left most of them obsolete as the world moved forward at a faster pace to keep up with technological innovations and the ever-changing needs of the citizens.

That aside, a number of corporations have been victims of poor management as funds are misappropriated and the infrastructures that they stood on vandalized. All this has denied Kenyans the needed services and rendered many industrious citizens unemployed. 

Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK), however, has been defiant. You only need to look at the team at the state corporation; able stewardship of Post Master General Mr Dan Kagwe, a united board and ingenuous staff to understand why Posta has refused to die. Remember the Internet sounded a death knell on postal services long ago and the corporation was long eulogized. It is supposed to be dead and buried.

Besides the traditional mail services and Money Gram, PCK has overtime introduced services like Posta Pay, Posta Pesa, Tunza Nyumba na Posta, E-Njiwa, EMS2GO and M-Post. It is this commitment to innovation that has ensured the mailman remains afloat. 

“We note with appreciation that Postal Corporation of Kenya has never been granted any subsidy by the national government since its split from the Kenya Posts and Telecommunications on 1 July 1999. The corporation has been able to finance its operations despite the challenges.” Joe Mucheru, the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and Technology noted in a speech delivered on his behalf by Jerome Ochieng who was chief guest at the launch and commissioning of the national logistics hub last month.

PCK officially launched the Posta Cargo Service and commissioned the National Logistics Hub at Machakos Road Grounds in Industrial Area, Nairobi, adding yet another invention to its services. Its focus will be on Clearing and Forwarding, with a main target being to ease import and export of goods and services in the country.

The CS appreciated the need of PCK to address the prevailing market and customer needs. Noting that involvement of all relevant players in the supply chain, including customs and transport as well as facilitation of cross border e-commerce were crucial, this being a great opportunity for the country to tap into the global e-commerce value estimated to be around $2.36 trillion by 2022.

The government through the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has continued to implement systems that are aimed at promoting communication and international integration. The National Addressing System (NAS) for instance, ensures among others, naming and numbering of streets, numbering of properties such as buildings and parcels of land to facilitate identification and the location of parcels or dwellings. Once fully rolled out, this will come in handy to help the PCK and government to deliver goods with a greater extent of accuracy to clients.

PCK, which already boasts of satisfied clients like the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission, whom they helped deliver elections materials in all corners of the country during the 2017 elections, the National Oil Corporation and Central Bank of Kenya are just amongst the happy clients who have enjoyed the quality services of PSC. The hub will act as the nerve center of distributing packages to every corner of the country to the over 600 postal offices countrywide.

Previously PCK operated from the congested Nairobi Central Business District; this limited her capacity to deliver services to her clients efficiently.

Last year, the corporation acquired 10 Volkswagen Polo Vivo vehicles worth Sh16.2 million from the Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers in Thika, a local assembly plant, which further enhanced the corporation’s vision of promoting the Big 4’s manufacturing agenda. The second phase of the fleet acquisition was to rope in 11 Isuzu Dmax TRF vehicles, which facilitate easy delivery and movement of services across the country.

Mrs Elizabeth Mwaura, general manager, Courier Services, expressed optimism in the hub, terming it a game changer in the delivery of cargo to clients. She was speaking to Nairobi Business Monthly from her office.

“In March we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Chamber of Commerce to provide for her members the infrastructure to facilitate their trade.” Revealed Mrs. Mwaura; while expressing optimism at the reception that they received from the business community when the hub was fronted to them. This is backed by the fact that PCK enjoys a great presence around the country through the various postal offices that penetrate even the remotest areas in Kenya.

The MOU with the National Chambers of Commerce was followed by visits to several county governments and engaging the local business communities to sell the hub. The reception has been extremely positive since middlemen in trade have always exploited traders by charging higher freight charges for their cargo, which eats into their margins.

Kenyans simply want to focus on production of goods and services and leave the worry of freight to reliable individuals and PCK, as a state corporation whose existence and excellence is well in the public domain is a welcome partner. Individual counties have specific needs in import and export services and having a partner with the capacity for such is a timely intervention.

The Jubilee government’s Big 4 Agenda has manufacturing as one of its pillars, with the hub, small and medium enterprises will now be able to easily and cheaply move their goods from imports to exports at fairer prices and this falls well in line with PCK’s mission to align their services to the government’s agenda.

The PSC has an operational warehouse in Mombasa that they intended to convert to a Container Freight Station (CFS). This awaits certification from the Kenya Maritime and once effected, operations will be in top gear.  Barring any other unforeseen circumstances, Mrs Mwaura is confident that the CFS status should be attained by the last quarter of 2019 and operations will kick in immediately. A CFS enables goods to be packed into containers at port of origin and unpacked at the port of destination at the carrier’s risk and expense, commonly referred to as pier-to-pier.

Over the years many SMEs and individual Kenyans have been hindered access to foreign markets due to freight challenges, which may include access and exorbitant rates. The entry of PCK, a reliable state corporation with the extensive infrastructure is quite welcome. World trade has moved to online and many Kenyans are now joining in. As such, the Ministry of ICT must also aid and ensure citizens are encouraged through incentives to explore it and also create jobs.

As a state corporation, PCK has endeavored to align its services alongside the central government’s agenda. This was evident in May, when the corporation launched the Big Four Agenda Stamps. These commemorative stamps will be issued to commemorate special events or occasions of national and international importance. These four pillars of the government’s social economic agenda for government development include affordable housing, universal health coverage, manufacturing and food security and nutrition.

PSC officially launched these commemorative stamps on May 29 at a colourful event at the Laico Regency Hotel in Nairobi. The event was graced by Judy Munyinyi, the Information Secretary in the Ministry of Information Communications & Technology. Also present were several dignitaries including the PCK chairman Nicholas Salat, Post Master General, and several philatelists including one who had travelled all the way from Australia to witness this occasion.

The stamps depict the country’s national roadmap to prosperity and industrial development and will communicate the government’s development agenda while creating awareness to Kenyans. This is also an avenue for the Big 4 Agenda implementers to leverage the expansive PCK networks to move their products and services.

The ministry of ICT, CS Mucheru has ever intimated, was working closely with stakeholders in the National Government to ensure that PSC is considered as the national payment gateway for all Public Services moving forward in a bid to make government services and the country in large move to cashless economy.

On stamps, it can also be recalled that PCK last year released commemorative stamps to celebrate the Northern White Rhino and also South African apartheid hero the late Nelson Mandela.

PSC continues to face challenges in the prevailing harsh economic times experienced in the country, but the innovative resilience of the people with the responsibility in running the corporation is admirable. Those who wrote the corporation off at the height of the Internet’s proliferation will continue to hide their faces in the wake of success after another at the Posta.