Postal Sector Modernization

 Postal Sector Modernization

This component aims to modernize the postal sector to improve its reach and service delivery. It will be implemented through the following sub-component:

  1. Reconstruction and modernization of Afghan Post Organization (APO),
  2. Rewriting of the postal law, and
  3. Setting up a Postal Regulator in the form of an independent authority under the Minister of Communication and IT

1.Reconstruction and Modernization of Afghan Post Organization (APO)

The Afghan Post Organization (APO) is still a state entity and an administration under MCIT.  Contrary to the public telecommunication operators, the Postal Sector has not yet enjoyed reforms and attracted investments. The future development strategy for the Postal Sector encompasses the need of reconstruction and modernization, rewriting of the postal law (see 3.A.2), and setting up a postal regulator in the form of an independent authority under the Minister of Communication and IT.

1.1.Development of Services

Postal organizations in the world; may they be private or public corporations, are encountering more and more complex business environment. The postal sector in Afghanistan is no exception to that. It has to face the ever-faster pace of change, the impact of globalization and global communication markets. New and affordable technologies need to be introduced.  Customers are more and more demanding; competition is getting tougher; it cannot, therefore, be expected from an organization, with a business service limited to the offering of basic postal service, to generate sufficient revenues to self-sustain themselves. Thus, there is a real call for traditional postal organizations to become more responsive, commercial and competitive through understanding the dynamics of the market in relation to their business. New services need to be introduced, such as:

Inter-city buses

It is to be mentioned that, due to the small volumes of mail involved it makes no economic sense to use a dedicated fleet for exclusive transportation of mail to the head provinces and districts, therefore due to these low mail volumes, it would make much sense from an economic and social perspective to:

  • Revive the old " mail bus system " (15 to 20 buses)
  • Mail bus system could be started on the network's secondary routes servicing all towns with a population of 15000 to 150000.
  • The fleet would follow specific routes. Based on a weekly program. Carrying paying passengers. Small cargo and mail
  • Or alternatively use existing transport companies to minimize and rationalize the costs based on volume variations

EMS Services & E-Post

Taking into consideration the profitability, y of the time cretin product lucrative markets e.g. EMS, IFS and E-Post it is desirable to offer an EMS service one of the priorities will be to clearly re-define a strategy of its license policy, while respecting competition laws.

This activity needs the following elements and implications:

  • The APO in order to offer a competitive EMS service will need to operate like any other business operating in this market, which implies a complete restructuring of the postal administration in order to separate the EMS activities from the current administration
  • Furthermore, the current APO does not have the adequate trained staff, neither the technical capital (i.e T&T equipment, raining, etc.) to support this new activity. 

Expansion of internet services Kiosks

As stated above, it does not appear reasonable to equip offices that neither have the staff competence nor the electricity and network capacity to manage IT tools.

Internet kiosk services with internet access have been set up currently in the main central post offices of Kabul. This new service appears to be rather successful in view of the number of visitors.

However, dependent on whether this is considered as part of the development strategy of the APO, internet service could be provided to the general public using whatever networking of service is available (GCN,DCN..). This would impact the proposed investment on the suggested computerization scheme of the post offices

Financial services

Setting up a postal financial institution, with low-tech investments, to offer money-transferring service, development tool for under-served populations throughout Afghanistan. By offering rudimentary financial services, taking into account the vast postal network, the APO could play a key role in providing people access to economic activities of their community.

The APO in this phase would simply offer front desk office network and seek commercial partnerships with an existing bank that would carry out real back-office banking activities. The APO would thus not be introducing a new Bank on the market, merely extending geographical coverage of an existing one and thus providing to the Afghan community, in more remote areas access to services they would not have access to otherwise.

Most banks in Afghanistan are recently established or re-implemented; yet they would not be in direct competition as they primarily target the lucrative segments of the market.

The introduction of basic micro-credit money order and payment of savant's salaries is envisaged to be offered under this project.

1.2.The Development of Afghan Post

APO will also need to modernize and offer secured and reliable mail services, as mail is its traditional core business. The big Afghan companies will send mail to their main clients (statements, official documents, etc.) for this purpose, re-engineering of mail processes and new mail products with printing services is enhanced.

In Phase 1, the APO will launch new basic services to the Afghan population.  These basic services will include mail and passenger transportation in mail buses IFS- based international money transfer in mail cities, basic micro-finance services in partnership with local Afghan Bank.

Phase 2 will be devoted to launch this larger range of services. This phase will require setting up a reliable and long-term IT infrastructure, enabling the Afghan post to secure the provision of services. This IT infrastructure will bring communications between the APO's retail outlets and HQ and other Afghan institution so as to offer new services

A: Technical Assistance

This will consist of technical assistance covering the following:

  • Consulting services (global design of the projects, organizations schemes…)
  • List of equipment, installation, materials and staff required to launch the projects
  • Management of the projects

This technical assistance phase will cover approx. 200-250 man/day, representing one-year preparation this duration will also respect the international organizations, selection processes for projects # 1 and 2.

B: Development of Telecommunication Infrastructure of APO

A major part of the development of the APO will be devoted to creating a reliable and updated telecommunications capacity. This will improve institutional and service capacity of the APO, mainly focusing on its capacity to provide access to financial service. The type of financial and business management capacity and the level of IT of APO will enable of offer secured and performing financial and other services to the afghan populations by using GCN and DCN facilities. 

C: Development of APO's IT system

The APO presently provides an Internet kiosk in the Kabul main post office, using Afghan Telecommunications service,

Since APO service should not compete with the GCN and the DCN projects or any telecommunications operator, it will use the existing infrastructures of offer additional service.

Once the appropriate business functions and IT infrastructures are created and the postal outlets are interconnected, the APO will be able to launch the above-mentioned new service.

A number of requirements must be met so as to expand APO capacity to provide a full rage of government, financial and other business services to the postal outlet network. These include:

•   Improved functional capacity in HQ especially for functions related to the provision of the new service ( cash and liquidity management, transaction support, capacity to maintain account-based relationships with client….)

•   Appropriate IT support for all key functions ( full control over IT service, modern equipment and application software)

•   EMS tracking and Tracing system

•   Multipurpose tele centers/E-post

The project will have four main steps that will be covered by four main types of actions:

  • Interconnectivity for the APO platform
  • National Payment system architecture
  • Project Management
  • Impact measurement of Key functions

Appropriate interconnectivity is a key requirement to enable the Afghan population to have access to financial service and to improve infrastructure in rural areas. This means that the project should include solutions that will provide appropriate interconnectivity for all the postal outlets, allow growth and accommodate other relevant functions, such as e-government. A fast and cost-effective interconnectivity solution will be selected.

Interconnectivity will include the following equipment:

•   Broadband hub in APO's HQ (Broadband platform)

•   Communications equipment (additional communications equipment per post office, such as additional fax and telephone)

•   Office automation (printer, scanner, copy-machine per post office

This equipment will enable the rural access capacity to full and reliable provision of APO's service.

1.3.Enhancing Mail Services

A: Re-engineering of mail delivery

The re-engineering will also require the provision of some basic additional mail management material and machines. Afghan post will offer this service in the 34 regional cities. This project will be launched as soon as the addresses system is reliable in these cities. The implementation will take approx. 2 year and will start immediately after compilation of previous activates.

B: Decentralized printing centers in the main afghan cities

Printing mail services could be relevant solutions for the Afghan post to print the forms, philatelic materials etc... Bank could use it for their statements, utilities for invoices and advertising,

C: Project management

A management team will be dedicated to the project. This team will include a project management, supported by several specialists in financial management, procurement, especially in IT system and equipment.

D: Hybrid mail services in Kabul

With the development of the IT infrastructures in Afghanistan the APO could launch internet-based hybrid mail services.

Several postal operators offer suck a solution. Their solutions are not expensive to implement as IT platform are already in place. Designing such a solution for Afghanistan would require translation into Dari and Pashto, Payment of basic options purchasing and maintenance of appropriate printers, franchising cost if relevant… this project could be established in a short-term delay (6 months including translations)

Training schemes to the APO key account mangers would be required to enable them to sell the solution to potential clients. A dedicated IT customer support force would also need to be trained so as to assist clients to use the hybrid mail solution (support call center).

Postal Financial payment Architecture

The postal financial payment architecture will enable to offer fast and reliable payment service to the Afghan population. This project will include the there modules

Once the national payment system is completed APO can directly interconnect to the system of utilities and authorities and then exchange information on bills to be collected and amounts collected. This will facilitate collections and improve the quality of billing service.  The APO platform will also provide access to financial service in rural areas.

1.4.Capacity Building

The APO currently employs 1260 staff, of which, 638 are civil servants.  211 people work in Head Quarters at Kabul. Each of 34 provinces has a Central Post Office in the provincial capital, which acts as an administrative and logistical platform for the distribution of mail for all the Districts. The remaining staff is under yearly contracts mostly working on clerical positions.

A large proportion of the APO staff operates out of rural areas. The qualifications of the clerks and postmen are probably lower and less marketable. It is to be mentioned that, a significant proportion of women occupy different positions.

The APO staffs, particularly the postmen working in the field, enjoy high respect in the local community. Due to their general level of literacy, despite the infrequency of mail delivery due to very less mails by inhabitant, they have a positive image within the districts and local communities.

Management's ability to encourage and motivate change within the current organization, and human resource development interventions related to change management, are essential for a successful turnaround of the any APO strategy.

The implementation of continuous study programs (1 to 2 weeks) targeted at middle and senior management to gain an insight into modern marketing, sales, finance and operational practices within a modern postal organization would certainly be of strong benefit to the development of new skills of the management. To meet the training requirements, postal academy/postal college needs to be established in Kabul,

1.5.Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of the Infrastructure and modernization of the APO Post Offices

Afghan Post is far from meeting norms set by UPU in terms of services rendered by one post office i.e. 3-4 km and/or 3000-6000 population. 82 APO owned Post Offices (82 such buildings of varying sizes and conditions located mostly in large to medium sized towns) are proposed to be provided facilities to improve heating, lighting, better accessibility and sign-posting, and also rehabilitation of buildings from small structural damages. The post offices are to be equipped with securing PO boxes, computerization and basic equipment. In order to meet the norm set by UPU, 120 new post Offices need to be constructed throughout the country in addition to the MCIT owned post offices (approximately 188).