Putting public assets to work

6 May 2016 11:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the WSIS Forum 2016.]

The session started with a brief introduction by the moderator Mr Paul Donohoe (Manager E-Business, UPU) about the postal network as a public asset of 670 000 offices around the world, and how it is recognised in the WSIS plan as an important network for social and economic development. While many people still lack connectivity, he talked about the existing linkage issues between the physical and digital world, like financial inclusion and gender equality. He said that the postal network should play an important role in the inclusion.

Mr Daniel Nieto (E-Services Programme Expert, Universal Postal Union) gave a brief summary of the monitoring work they do. He talked about the importance of digital transformation where people need to be connected. He said each two years the UPU monitors the development of the postal network in three service areas: e-government, e-commerce, and e-finance. According to him, digital transformation is a facilitator and an enabler of government services and the financial system. It allows citizens in rural areas to get connected to the postal network, which serves the community and people.  He also mentioned that there is a lot of room for government to improve these assets. We can see how mobile technology is transforming digital societies and how people are changing. We can see  how big data, cloud money, and new payment technology such mobile wallets, can be used in e-commerce and e-government where the postal network can be a major player.

Mr Fouad Zaidi (Directeur de la Poste numérique et télécoms, La Group Poste Maroc) presented the Digital Post project of Morocco. He described it as a bridge to connect the physical and the digital world,  a partnership between the government and the private sector.  New laws, new agreements, and new processes are needed to run this programme. We have to understand the importance of infrastructure (optic fibre, data centre) and how to distribute the roles between the different actors to build a strong postal framework.  Cloud and SaaS services are crucial to making the postal business as easy as possible. Morocco aimed to realise 100% legal electronic transactions based on a multi-level law project.

Mr Miguel Candia Ibarra (First Secretary, Paraguay Permanent Mission to UNOG) started with a brief introduction of the Paraguay e-government and e-commerce statutes. He said the postal network is working with different NGOs and ministries to put the system into production. The application is carrying out services with the Social Action Secretariat for people below the poverty line.  He presented the postal network’s role as a digital pipe for financial transactions. It is involved in capacity building for the beneficiary.

Mr Cornelius Ramatlhakwane (CEO, Botswana Post) spoke remotely about the Botswana solution, a mobile application that allows subscribers to transact using a mobile phone. It provides e-banking services and electricity vending. He also talked about the payment PosoCard project for social services as part of the country’s digital transformation programme.

Mr Moez Jebali (Responsible Mobile Payment, La Poste Tunisienne) gave an overview of Tunisia’s postal digital services. He addressed the importance of mobile in financial transactions, and how the e-post services are externalising and simplifying citizens’ lives. Mobi Post provides online transactions with interoperability between the different ISPs. It includes a range of online services (consultations, bills, and money transfers). Mobi Post has many advantages and contributes to creating new culture and values.

Mr Liam Church (CEO Escher Group) talked about three big things which we should observe carefully:  smartphones, digital money, and digital identity. He asked how we can manage identity across businesses and personal? Digital identity is a big issue with a big question to be answered. Although policymakers all over the world are working to ensure direct access to bank accounts and the fundamental impact on the movement of money (cloud money), there is a battle war going on in Europe about who will be predominant actor in online payments. This would be a  tremendous role for the postal network.

Donohoe concluded by stating the importance of government-driven activities, the role of the private sector in building the postal frameworks, and how the postal network should act and react to government and market needs. He added that the unique role that the postal network can play is to ensure a digital inclusion requires the modernisation of public assets. Engagement of all actors is fundamental for successfully ensuring that no one is left behind.

by Hafedh Yahmadi