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Postal services resist technology dominance to post modest growth

By By Fredrick Obura | January 24th 2013

By Fredrick Obura

Postal and courier companies resisted the dominance of technology to record a modest growth during the quarter to September last year.

While most Kenyans no longer have post office boxes and mostly rely on cell phones and e-mail for communication, the number of postal letters sent during the three months to September rose when put in comparison to letters sent in the quarter to June last year.

The growth was mostly due to increased use of postal mail by companies.

According to a quarterly report by Communication Commission of Kenya, the total number of letters sent locally rose to 17.7 million, up from 16.7 million recorded during the previous period, representing an increase of 5.9 per cent.

 “Modernising the sector with advanced technological innovations, as well as being responsive to customers’ needs could be explored to enhance service delivery,” said CCK.

Electronic mails and instant phone messaging are among the challenges postal and courier services face. Kenya, like other countries across the globe has embraced the new technologies in communication, replacing the traditional postal services.

The four Fiber optic cables in Kenya have reduced significantly the cost of Internet, increasing access in platforms such as mobile phones and computers. The estimated number of Internet users stood at 13.53 million

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Service decline

The report says there was significant decline in the number of courier items sent during the period. The number dropped to 178,443 items down from 398,724 items sent during the previous period, representing a decline of 55.2 per cent.

Similarly, when compared to the same period in the previous year, a decline of 54.5 per cent was recorded.

On the other hand, the number of international incoming letters went up from 125,020 received during the previous period to 158,547 during the period under review, posting an increase of 26.8 per cent. Compared to the same period the previous year, an increase of 58 per cent was recorded.

The international outgoing letters increased by 7.2 per cent from 1.5 million letters sent during the previous period to 1.6 million letters during the period under review.

Although the growth in international outgoing traffic is not proportional to the outgoing traffic, the general trend could be attributed to the blend in feedback mechanism to complete the communication circle.

During the period under review, the number of postal outlets did not experience any growth from 667 outlets recorded in the previous quarter.  However, the number of postal outlets declined by 3.3 per cent when compared to the same period the previous year.

Data technology

 Rapidly advancing computer and data transmission technologies of the late 20th century are being felt far more widely within the postal sector than were previous advances, such as improved roads, the railway, and the airplane.

Although the latter enabled postal services to reform or enhance existing services, today’s technologies go further by providing alternatives to the letter in the form of electronic messaging networks and electronic data-processing techniques to improve administrative efficiency.

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