The world of business has got many ups and downs and navigating them is not a walk in the park. While the fittest survive, the weak throw in the towel even before celebrating their fifth birthday.
In a rare show of resilience in a field that is characterized by cut throat competition, the Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta Kenya) marked its twentieth anniversary a month ago in July. The organization split from the defunct Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation ( KPTC) on 30th June 1999.
1st July 1999, was a day that the members of staff at the Corporation had waited for with a lot of apprehension. The Corporation was now on its own. The anxious staff then had many concerns including how they would survive especially without the large cash flow from telecommunications services. They could not imagine how the postal business would generate any worthwhile revenue to sustain them.
A fortnight later, the first Postmaster General of the Corporation, Amb. Bishar A. Hussein called for a meeting in front of the Posta Kenya headquarters and encouraged them to embrace the vast opportunities that lay ahead and work towards a great future for Posta Kenya. The staff heeded to his call. Twenty years later, Posta Kenya has grown in leaps and bounds.
Posta Kenya is a public commercial enterprise operating under the PCK Act of 1998. Its mandate includes provision of accessible, affordable and reliable postal services to all parts of Kenya as the designated national public postal licensee where communication through the post office forms part of the basic human rights as enshrined in the 1948 United Nations Charter.
functions of the Corporation in accordance with the provisions of section 50 of the Kenya Information and
Communications Act, 1999 (revised in 2014) are as follows:
(a) Provide and operate the postal services, perform incidental services relating to the receiving, collecting, sending, dispatching and delivering of postal articles and electronic mail;
(b) Providing postal financial services and incidental services relating to the issuing, receiving and paying of mobile e-money, mobile payments, money remittance business, money and postal orders, postal drafts, postal cheques, postal travellers’ cheques, cash-on-delivery, collection of bills, virtual savings services, general electronic online agency services and registration for delivery of newspapers and periodicals;
(c) Electronic retail transfers and the national payments system.
The oversight of the corporation’s management is vested in a board of directors and the Postmaster General who is the Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for the day to day administration of the postal business. Posta Kenya has been transformed over the twenty years journey. It has been served by seven substantive Postmaster Generals who include:
• Amb. Bishar Hussein – 1st July 1999 – December 2001;
• Mr. Francis Chahonyo (late) – December 2001 – March 2003;
• Mr. Dan Ameyo – March 2003 – March 2006;
• Mr. Fred Odhiambo – Septem-ber 2006 – June 2009;
• Rtd Major General Hussein Ali – September 2009 – May 2012;
• Dr. Enock Kinara – September 2012 – July 2016;
• Mr. Dan Kagwe – March 2017 – to date.
The Corporation started with a workforce of approximately 5,250. Nevertheless, the number has drastically reduced to 2,780 as per 1st July 2019. This is due to the fact that twenty years ago, business operations were purely manual unlike today where automation of both front and back office operations has been fully integrated. The Corporation has walked this journey without any subsidy or support from The National Treasury and has been supporting its operations through internally generated revenue from its business. Posta Kenya is listed as a commercial state corporation and thus The Treasury expects to be paid dividends on an annual basis.
The Corporation in July 2019 adopted the 2019/22 corporate strategic plan. The plan provides a clear blueprint of initiatives and projects that will enable it to be an innovative, trusted logistics and payment service provider. Towards this end, it endeavours to remain efficient and competitive by providing end to end, innovative, reliable, mail, courier, logistics, e-commerce and payment services to its customers.
As an icing on the cake, Posta Kenya will mark its 20th anniversary by issuing a commemorative stamp during the World Post Day celebrations that will be held on Wednesday 9th October 2019.
Posta Kenya, recently achieved
two critical milestones as it endeavours to keep abreast with the changing
trends in the local and global industries. It launched the Posta Cargo service,
besides commissioning the National Logistics Hub at Machakos Road, in Nairobi’s
industrial area. According to Mr. Daniel Kagwe, the Postmaster General, the
Corporation is keen on taking advantage of its massive network of services,
national last mile services that are in place in order to remain relevant in the current dynamic marketplace. The advent and fast growth of information and communication technology (ICT) globally has disrupted the traditional core business of post office – delivery of mails. Against that background, Posta Kenya has developed a number of innovative and attractive products including: Mpost, Nyumba na Posta, EMS2GO, the Postal Digital Parcel locker and E-njiwa among others.
The national logistics hub has been established in order to effectively and efficiently distribute all the postal and courier items countrywide. “We aim to decongest the current EMS centre at the Nairobi central business district with a view of enhancing service delivery to our esteemed customers,” says Mr. Kagwe. The hub was constructed through Posta Kenya’s internally generated resources. Its operations will be well complimented with the corporation’s vast fleet that is spread across the country in all its branches. Nairobi will serve as the national exchange centre.
Posta Cargo is a courier service that offers a one stop solution for clearing and forwarding. The service presents Posta Kenya with a tremendous opportunity to grow and improve its revenue base. “We must take advantage of our massive network of assets, infrastructure and national last-mile services that are in place in order to remain relevant in the current dynamic marketplace,” observes Mr. Kagwe.
Posta Kenya seamlessly handled all the logistics of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) during the last general elections. The major achievement earned the corporation a lot of visibility, and it clearly demonstrated that it has the capacity to provide excellent distribution and logistical services to both private and public sectors.
Digital transformation has become a strategic priority of the organization, as it seeks to secure its relevance at the marketplace. A trend has emerged whereby the Postal and Courier sectors are being fused with technology. Indeed, Posta Kenya is seeking to build a seamless network that is connected both virtually and physically. “The current market and customer needs call for the involvement of all players in the postal supply chain, including customs and transport, as well as the facilitation of cross-border e-Commerce,” says Mr. Jerome Ochieng, the Principal Secretary, ministry of information, communications and technology (ICT).
The Universal Postal Union is building a comprehensive framework for e-commerce. This development will enable all the interested parties to share in the emerging opportunities. In that respect, Kenya has been selected by the union as one of the countries to roll out the regional e-commerce hubs, leveraging on the extensive postal outlets. Consequently, Kenya will tap into the local and regional e-Commerce opportunities whose global value is estimated to rise to 2.36 trillion dollars by 2022.
Despite facing monumental challenges (especially disruption from electronic mails), Posta Kenya has remained resilient. Indeed, the organization has never been granted any subsidy by the National Government since the split of the then giant KPTC into three public entities: Telkom Kenya, Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta Kenya) and the Communications Commission of Kenya (which has since rebranded to the Communications Authority of Kenya).