THE POST: A VERITABLE PARTNER FOR FINANCIAL INCLUSION AND REGIONAL INTEGRATION
By Ifeanyi Ejiofor
Recently, Nigeria joined 54 other member-states of the Pan African Postal Union (PAPU) to celebrate the pan African Post Day which also marked the 40th Anniversary of the Union established on 18th January,
1980 with its Headquarters at Arusha, in the United Republic of Tanzania.
Pan African Post Day is used by authorities of the Post in Africa to highlight the significant role which postal services play in the economic,
social and cultural development of countries including PAPU’s role in promoting regional integration by
developing communication facilities to ensure accessible, affordable and reliable services to the citizens
in the region.
Each year, PAPU chooses a theme which focuses on its efforts to promote efficient postal and ancillary
services to customers of the Post, and theme chosen for this year’s celebration is : “THE POST- A
VERITABLE PARTNER FOR FINANCIAL INCLUSION AND REGIONAL INTEGRATION.”
Postal services are an essential part of every country’s economic and social structure as they represent a unique asset and
instrument for development.
By facilitating trade at all levels and the flow of information needed to better
people’s lives, the Postal sector contributes to job creation and poverty alleviation which are the main
goals of Financial Inclusion.
Financial Inclusion is defined as the delivery of financial services at affordable costs to sections of the disadvantaged and low income segments of the society, in contrast to financial
exclusion where those services are not available or even affordable.
Financial Inclusion is a key enabler for boosting prosperity and reducing corruption in the society. The ‘term’ Financial inclusion gained
importance in the early 2000 as a result of findings about ‘financial exclusion’ and its direct correlation to
The United Nations defines the goals of Financial Inclusion to include- (i) access at a reasonable cost for
all households for a full range of financial services such as savings or deposit services, payment or transfer
services, credit and insurance, (ii) financial and institutional sustainability to ensure continuity, and (iii)
competition to ensure choice and affordability for clients.
The United Nations’ (UN) data puts the number of working age adults who have no access to the types of formal financial services provided by regulated
financial institutions at 3.2 billion with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 29% of the number of adults
without a bank account.
Providing Financial Inclusion to the global community has been the core social mission of the Postal sector
anchored by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the UN special agency regulating the activities of Postal
Over the years, the Postal sector has been providing postal financial services to
people in many countries across the globe through its Postal Saving Banks, postal and money orders which
Postal Administrations used as standard financial instruments to facilitate money transfers from people
living in big towns and cities to their relations in the rural areas. Since 2002, the UPU made access to
affordable and accessible money transfer services a top priority.
It replaced the paper money and postal orders with a modern electronic version based on its International Financial System (IFS). Today many
Postal Administrations are providing a faster, more secure and reliable financial services.
By adopting the UPU International Financial System, many postal administrations have been able to optimize their
domestic electronic money transfer network, thus making the financial component of the world postal
network an integral part of the global effort to develop economies, create jobs and reduce poverty. The
UPU estimates that postal financial services will account for at least 70 billion USD of global postal
revenues by the year 2020.
Through collaboration with International development agencies like the Alliance for Financial Inclusion
(AFI), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation the UPU has been assisting its member-
countries to bring Financial Inclusion to the rural areas.
Between 2011 and 2016, Central Asia and Asia-Pacific benefitted from the UPU-IFAD project that extended postal payment network into rural areas and reached more than 60 million people in the region. In 2012, the UPU set up a regional Clearing House for
remittances which helped eight Latin American countries and Spain in clearing and settling postal
payments among themselves with ease since then.
In the same year, the UPU also implemented a financial bridge with Eurogiro- a global payment network connecting banks and some Postal
Administrations and other payment handlers allowing the easy transfer of remittances from Post offices
using the UPU’s World Electronic Postal Payment Network (WEPPN).
In 2014, the UPU collaborated with IFAD to launch a new remittance initiative in Africa with the objective of leveraging postal network to
offer remittances and financial services in order to boost financial inclusion in the rural areas.
Four countries, Benin, Ghana, Madagascar and Senegal benefitted as first pilot countries while seven other
countries including Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe received technical
assistance to upgrade their facilities and implement the project.
Interestingly, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) has taken giant strides in Financial Inclusion through
its collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The NIPOST/CBN Financial Inclusion project is a multi-agency initiative involving the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the Bureau
of Public Enterprises (BPE), the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the Federal
Ministry of Finance, CBN, and NIPOST as project owner.
Its aim is to utilize the network of Post offices
across the Nigeria to create and provide the citizens access to financial services, create jobs and reduce
poverty in the rural areas.
In March 2015, the Federal Government took a significant step towards
improving Financial Inclusion in Nigeria with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with
a Bangladeshi company, Infrastructure Investment Facilitation Company (IIFC) for the provision of
advisory services to the NIPOST/CBN Financial Inclusion project.
In May 2019, NIPOST/CBN Financial Inclusion project approved the utilization of 2000 post offices spread
across the six geo-political zones of the country to serve as microfinance banks (mfb) in collaboration with
the Nigeria Incentive based Risk sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to provide credit
facilities to rural farmers as part of the Federal Government’s Financial Inclusion programme.
Similarly,in June last year, NIPOST signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Fidelity Bank Plc to enable
the bank use more than 1800 postal outlets nationwide to expand its network and operations. It is
expected that as efforts to promote a vibrant Digital economy in Nigeria, more financial institutions will
seek synergies with the Postal sector to expand their reach to the populace.
There is no doubt that the Posts in Africa can contribute to the impulse of sustainable development of our
societies as well as fight against poverty and exclusion As PAPU celebrates its 40th Anniversary, I invite
people of different social strata including Government officials to visit a Post office and find out what it
has to offer. I am confident that they will find services which are better adapted to the Information
By the same token, I am appealing to the Federal Government to take urgent steps to re-energize
the Postal sector to enable it overcome prevailing domestic and international market forces that are
challenging its relevance and viability. Replacing NIPOST’s outdated facilities and dilapidated structures
will no doubt place the organization in a good stead to play a more positive role in promoting economic
activities, poverty alleviation and increase of Nigeria’s gross domestic products (GDP).
By repositioning the Post for better performance and integrating postal services into regional economic
development goals, Governments in Africa stand a better chance of achieving a more inclusive form of
development and integration. .
By IFEANYI EJIOFOR (Media practitioner & Public Affairs Analyst.)