This week, Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) looks at the operations of the postal services in Zambia and how it remains relevant for everyday life as well as the business environment.
The designated postal operator, Zampost, is an organisation like no other and is deemed as the life and soul of communities across the country, as it plays a vital role in the delivery of public services.
It is of no surprise that the increase in technology development and the use of the internet as a mode of communication has led to an alternative reduction in the need for the basic postal services such as posting letters through mail boxes. Subsequently, the tremendous reduction in the mail volumes had begun to take its toll on the financial viability of the postal operator.
Over recent years, Zampost has developed products and services which seem to be facilitating a gradually improved financial position for the operator, thus keeping the postal operators alive and playing an active role in the development of the country.
In this regard, Zampost currently has four subsidiaries, namely; Post bus, Zampost bureau de change, Zampost microfinance and Zampost clearing & logistics. Furthermore, to remain financially viable, Zampost has entered into partnerships with various companies such as the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) and MultiChoice Zambia through DStv to provide efficient services. Other partner companies are the Food and Reserves Agency, Workersâ€™ Compensation Fund and African Life Assurance.
It is worth noting that ZICTA is mandated to monitor the postal and courier sector in the country to ensure compliance.
In order to ensure customer protection and to obtain a clear depiction on the level of compliance in terms of services, the monitoring and compliance team at ZICTA carries out annual inspections in all post offices across the country.
The primary objectives of the inspections, therefore, are as follows:
â€¢ To use the requirements listed in the draft Postal and Courier Services Regulations and the postal services Act as a guide to assess the level of compliance of selected postal outlets;
â€¢ To identify areas of deficiency, if any, which are likely to contribute to the poor quality of service, if any;
â€¢ To gather detailed information on the Postal Services in the province in order to continue the development of a National Database of postal and courier facilities for easier identification of operators operating outside the licensing framework; and
â€¢ To establish the facilities and infrastructure that Zampost has at present.
The inspections are conducted using a structured inspection checklist covering the following areas of interest:
1.Â Statutory Requirements:
2. License or Authorisation;
3. Certificates of Incorporation and Shareholding;
4. Tax Payer Identification details;
5. Register of Assets and liabilities;
6. Books of Accounts; and
7. Books of Business (Receipts, invoices etc.)
Having visited over 50 percent of the Zampost operators in the country, it is clear that the majority face a number of challenges such as poor infrastructure and lack of equipment, to mention a few.
However, the post office continues to play an indispensable role in our day-to-day activities. With projects such as the National Addressing and Postal Code project, which ZICTA is currently undertaking, the access of services provided by the post office to the customers will be improved, thus bringing them closer to the end users.