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Forum of African Postal Leaders

"African Posts on the Road to Digital Transformation and Innovation".

The African Postal Leaders' Forum was held in Abidjan from July 3 to 5, 2023, with the theme "African Posts on the Road to Digital Transformation and Innovation".

With immense pride and pleasure, the Chairman of the Postal Operation Council (POC), Jean-Paul FORCEVILLE, renewed his gratitude to Côte d'Ivoire for hosting this high-level forum dedicated to innovation and the digital transformation of Posts, 2 years after the Abidjan Congress.

The POC Chairman recalled how much the new UPU team elected in Abidjan was working in a very good spirit and with a lot of energy. He also congratulated the members of the POC for their active participation in the process, and thanked the forum's organizers for the themes choices, the diversity and quality of the speakers.

Ministers, postal executives, representatives of the ITU, the African Union, the world of finance and banking, players in the digital and tech sectors, and in cyber security, were able to share their visions and strategies over 3 days during presentations and round tables. All areas of daily life and tomorrow's world were addressed: eHealth, e-Government, e-Commerce, urban logistics, e-Wallets, financial social inclusion, innovation, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity.

At the opening of the Forum, the Chairman of the POC declared at the podium:

"The Posts have a role to play in the digitalization of the economy, and you can count on the POC's total commitment. There are no magic solutions; the keys to success lie in cooperation, partnership and innovation. Conferences like these are a good example of this, but the role of governments and regulators is paramount. The Posts involved in this transition need their support", a statement approved by the Post Directors of Côte d'Ivoire and Niger.

During a round-table discussion, Jean-Paul Forceville, this time representing France and La Poste Groupe, spoke of the French postal operator's track record over the past 20 years in terms of deployment of new commercial offerings, innovation, changing mentalities, technological breakthroughs, social and financial inclusion and "the fight against illiteracy".

The opportunities and potential of the African continent are huge: the African digital economy could reach 5.2% of the continent's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.

Between 2010 and 2019, Africa's GDP grew at an annual rate of 4%, more than twice that of the European Union or Latin America over the same period. Thanks to its dynamic economy, the world's youngest and fastest-growing population and rapid urbanization, Africa's consumption of online services is increasing tremendously. Digital transformation in Africa is therefore a key priority.

The postal network is part of the essential infrastructure in all African countries. It enables socio-economic development, access for citizens and businesses to e-commerce, financial and administrative services. The postal sector must remain relevant in the face of changing market needs in a rapidly expanding digital economy.

The challenges remain great, as the moderator of the debates, Gertrude Konaté, energetically reminded us, along with the women postal executives from Benin, Seychelles, Benin and Ethiopia, and the representative of the African Union, Ms Miheret Demissew Woodmatas, committed to a 2063 plan: "We must silence the guns in Africa. We must set up an African passport for the free movement of our citizens and goods, we must pursue the electrification of our continent, and the development of our infrastructure and telecommunications in a more integrated system..."

The Director General of the Niger Post Office, Mr Idrissa Kané, was optimistic, declaring: "The primary asset of Posts is their human resources, and we can be sure that the youth, dynamism and enthusiasm of their leaders and of the continent will be able to meet these challenges".

At the end of the Forum, participants adopted a joint declaration in which they pledged to spare no effort in expanding and using the postal network for the sustainable development of economies, societies and digital societies. They called on UPU members and all development players to contribute actively to the successful implementation of this declaration.

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