Ethiopost and UPU’s .POST – Together towards digital future

On the margins of the 17th United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – a multistakeholder forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, between 28 November and 2 December 2022 – the UPU’s .POST project team engaged with the host country’s postal operator and new .POST Group member, the Ethiopian Postal Service (Ethiopost).

In recognition of the critical role that Ethiopost plays in Ethiopia’s digital economy, the UPU invited its Chief Executive Officer, Hanna Arayaselassie, to speak during its Lightning Talk, organized on the sidelines of the IGF under the theme “The postal sector role in the digital economy”.

The global postal network and the UPU have been long recognized as key stakeholders in the development of the Information Society, as reflected in the outcomes of the UN World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005. In 2021, the UN Secretary-General’s report “Our Common Agenda” put forward the creation of a Global Digital Compact as one of its key recommendations. The Compact, which is coordinated by the Office of the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Technology, will be adopted during the 2024 Summit of the Future and will include the postal sector’s inputs, consolidated by the UPU.

To gather postal sector stakeholders’ views on how the Post can advance an open and secure digital future for all, the UPU has recently launched a public consultation, which will provide the basis for the sector’s contribution to the Global Digital Compact (read more about the consultation here). This ongoing consultation set the context for the UPU’s IGF Lightning Talk, which aimed to further explore the role of the Post as a key driver of digital, financial and social inclusion.

During the session, Arayaselassie was joined by Rodney Taylor, Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), and Yu Ping Chan, Senior Programme Officer at the Office of the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Technology. The hybrid discussion was moderated on-site by TracyHackshaw, UPU .POST Projects Manager, and online – by Juan Moroni, UPU Digital Transformation Expert.

During her intervention, Arayaselassie reflected on how Ethiopost is currently involved in the implementation of the Digital Ethiopia 2025 National Strategy, including through its various partnerships with both public and private institutions. One of the brightest examples of such work is the National ID Programme, under which Ethiopost uses its extensive physical network to register and distribute national ID credentials to Ethiopian citizens.

As mentioned by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed in his remarks at the IGF’s opening, the democratization of knowledge and communication is critical to the harmonious development and socioeconomic growth of the African continent. To this end, Arayaselassie emphasized the relevance of the postal sector’s expertise in logistics and the provision of accessible services as the continent enters the digital age.

The session was followed by an on-site visit to the Ethiopost’s Head Office in Addis Ababa, where the UPU met with Arayaselassie’s team, including the post’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), Ibrahim Kedir. According to Kedir, Ethiopost is well positioned to take full advantage of its digital transformation potential and to fully participate in the global digital economy.

As a new member of the .POST Group, Ethiopost has recently registered the domain ETHIO.POST, which Kedir expects to become the focus of the Ethipost’s renewed digital agenda.

The CIO stated his belief that the new .POST domain will provide an identifiable brand for the post and position it as a reliable and trustworthy supplier of digital postal services for the community. Moreover, by using the ETHIO.POST domain, Ethiopost will be able to establish a distinctive online identity.

“Our business will stand out and be consistent throughout our digital strategy and marketing materials by using the domain name ETHIO.POST. Having a business email that matches our domain name is crucial for us. It is also important for us to join and use the UPU cybersecurity safe zone environment to minimize risks of cyber-related attacks,” Kedir said.

Hackshaw added, “The .POST team and the UPU are thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with Ethiopost on achieving its digital transformation objectives, and we look forward to assisting the CEO and her team with consolidating this success. We also hope to have Ethiopost among the foundational members of our forthcoming .POST Digital Centre of Excellence, providing a source of best digital practices for the global postal sector.”

Watch the full Lightning Talk recording here.

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