The Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) has assured Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) of its support. This, it stated would be done through its digital platforms.
The Postmaster General of the Federation, Bisi Adegbuyi, gave the assurance in Lagos, recently.
According to him, “There are several ways how we can use the post to enhance and promote small business owners. We can address the challenges associated with SME business in Nigeria such as lack of access to funds, lack of access to market and inadequate logistics, through our innovative platforms that are now digital.”
Determined to assist the SME business, the e-Commerce department of NIPOST recently went into partnership with technology savvy Nigerians to create the NIPOST market platform that aggregates the products and services of SMEs and internationalise it by taking such products and services to online for the world to see and have access to them, using the NIPOST wide network, the Postmaster General added.
“We are aware that access to credit facilities is a major challenge to SMEs, which is linked to identity management of the small business owners. To address this challenge which has denied SMEs the opportunity to credit facilities, NIPOST is leveraging existing technologies to deploy state-of-art hyper specific addressing system that will help SMEs have genuine identity that could give them access to loans for business expansion.
“With a smartphone with internet connectivity, SMEs can go online and download NIPOST Addressing System from the Google Play Store and they will be given digital address system free of charge, and it comes with the fully digitalised post code,” Adegbuyi said.
He explained that Under the Know Your Customer (KYC) initiative of commercial banks, SMEs with addressing system and post code, could easily be identified and have quick access to soft loans. The NIPOST Address Verification System is ready and will be launched soon. In the past, postal order were used as a means of exchange of money but all that are no more.
“But with technology innovation, we have come up with a robust e-money order that will replace the old manual postal order and it will soon be launched to the public, which we believe will help to further deepen cashless economy and bring in more SMEs into the CBN financial inclusion strategy.
NIPOST, according to him, has the widest network because of its presence in all the 36 states and all the 774 local government areas of the federation, and that the Central Bank of Nigeria has granted NIPOST an international money transfer operator’s licence, that will enable NIPOST start with inbound remittances to drive SMEs businesses in the country. We have equally signed an agreement with Western Union and they will be using the post offices as payout. Remittances drives development and our plan is to use the post in sustain the country’s developmental goals, especially those geared towards SME business, Adegbuyi said.
General Manager, EMS, the courier arm of NIPOST, Mrs. Tayo Taye Ajayi, said NIPOST, through its courier arm, has made mail delivery a lot easier.
According to her, the volume of mail traffic has improved over the years, reaching above 350,000 mails for speedpost in 2018. She said delivery within West African countries now take only four days and five days for other African countries. In the area of volume of sales, Ajayi said in 2017, EMS raked N1.8 billion in revenue but that the sales volume dropped in 2018 to N1.2 billion.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, recently directed the Postmaster General of the Federation to stop cash payments across the counters of NIPOST offices nationwide. The order, according to Pantami, was meant to curb corrupt practices of some staff of NIPOST who were in the habit of collecting money from customers without remitting same to government.
In a statement signed by the Spokesperson to the Minister, Mrs. Uwa Suleman, the Minister said: “It has come to the attention of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, that some unscrupulous elements, have been taking undue advantage of the cash payment system under the Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST), to engage in corrupt practices.
“In line with the anti-corruption agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari and the mandate of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the Honourable Minister hereby directs the Post Master General, to with immediate effect, suspend all existing cash payment plans within its establishments nationwide. The Post Master General, is to ensure that all its offices revert to Point of Sales (PoS) and bank teller transactions immediately.”
According to the statement, “The general public and all customers of NIPOST, are hereby encouraged to insist on Point of Sales (PoS) or bank teller transactions, when conducting business with NIPOST. This directive is a temporary measure in the interim to tackle corruption, as we are currently working on fully automating the systems as a permanent solution to the challenge.”