The Universal Postal Union (UPU) Director-General Bishar A. Hussein and Ethiopian Minister of Innovation and Technology Getahun Mekuria signed a cooperation agreement in Addis Ababa on 17 December 2018 to develop an e-commerce hub for East Africa under the UPU’s Ecom@Africa initiative.
Commenting on this important milestone in the development of Ethiopia, Mr. Hussein said that the agreement confirmed the Ethiopian government’s “commitment to launch Ecom@Africa, a single window platform for domestic and international e-commerce trade.”
The Director-General reaffirmed that the UPU is ready to help any member country interested in the project.
“Barriers to e-commerce in Africa are many and varied. We need one platform that can address all the challenges comprehensively. Ecom@Africa powered by the Post is the solution,” said Mr. Hussein.
Launched in 2016, Ecom@Africa aims to ensure the development of e-commerce through the African postal network, giving micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) better access to local and international markets by simplifying import and export procedures.
The project has been seen as a lifeline for African Posts as they struggle to build up their business given the decline in letter-post and traditional postal services.
Speaking earlier this year during the Fifth Extraordinary Session of the Pan African Postal Union in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Mr. Hussein called the UPU project a key enabler of e-commerce, which allows African citizens and businesses to participate in national, regional, and global economies. “Ecom@Africa can unite national governments with postal operators and create an e-commerce ecosystem,” he added.
As a next step, the UPU will offer expert advice to Ethiopia on the design and implementation of the project. The UPU has already launched the project in three other African countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, and Tunisia, which are being prepared to become e-commerce hubs for different parts of the continent. Three other countries, including Cameroon, Kenya, and Morocco, are in the process to launch this initiative.