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Saturday, March 29, 2014

ITU and UPU renew ICT partnership to open up access to postal services

28.03.2014 - Leveraging new technologies to extend the reach of postal services and developing international standards for mobile payments will take centre stage in future work between the UPU and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Hamadoun Touré (left) signs the agreement as Bishar A. Hussein looks on (Photo: Manu Friedrich)
Director General Bishar A. Hussein and ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré signed a new memorandum of understanding to this effect at UPU headquarters in Berne, Switzerland, on March 26.
“The UPU and ITU are working together to strengthen the capacity of our respective sectors to deliver quality postal services through bringing connectivity to post offices in developing and least developed countries,” said Hussein.
Calling the two specialized agencies under the United Nations umbrella twin sisters, Hussein welcomed the opportunity to pool resources. “This agreement comes at an opportune time as the UPU is already working hard towards increasing connectivity and electrification of post offices in rural areas in Africa to increase people’s access to postal services.”
With the lack of internet connectivity and access to a stable source of electricity often hampering the effective provision of postal services, the UPU-ITU initiative will explore new business models for post offices to better deliver services in rural and remote communities with help from information communications technology (ICT).
On the cards is a solution to connect post offices to the internet using satellite technology. This, in turn, should make it easier for Posts to play a wider role in bringing remittance services to the community, as well as enabling government payments, such as social benefits, to reach citizens with ease on mobile devices.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for two venerable institutions to step together boldly in the 21st century – and to make the world a better place for all citizens,” said Touré.
Discussions are continuing on fleshing out the details of a potential pilot project in the field with technology partners from the private and non-profit sectors participating.
The new agreement replaces an older one signed in 2007, under which the UPU and ITU collaborated successfully to bring ICTs to the postal network in countries like India, Bhutan and Afghanistan and rural parts of the African continent.
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