There are people who don’t love moving on, top on the list being the government. I was surprised when applying for my replacement passport that the field for P.O. Box was mandatory, yet in my life I have never owned a P.O. Box number. The other person who is so attached to yesterday is Posta, followed closely by all those who don’t want to move on with digital technology.
They are not alone. I have a friend who still buys physical Invoice Books to write invoices in an era where invoices can be generated online for free. And it is not that the digital invoices are any less effective than the manual ones.
So now I’m wondering if you are one those Kenyans who can’t just move on. Today you find companies and corporations that still insist on manual documents, even where such documents are completely unnecessary. Things like bank statements, invoices, receipts, or any other documents validating financial transactions, can be securely digitized.
Letters have become text messages. That is, an ordinary Kenyan doesn’t need postal services. I for instance I have lived for more than 10 years without ever sending or receiving a document via the post office. That’s a decade.
Yet in this era someone like Safaricom still goes around partnering with the dying Posta to create P.O. Boxes for people who definitely don’t need them. But again no everyone knows this.
There are people who may think they do not use postal services because they do not have P.O. Box numbers. No, that’s not the reason why you do not use postal services. You do not use postal services because you don’t need those services. If you can survive a year without ever needing the use of a postal service, you definitely do not need the service; it doesn’t matter whether the P.O. Box number is your mobile phone or the traditional P.O. Box number we are all used to.
Enough ranting – what you need to know is that Safaricom together with Posta have launched a digital P.O. Box number dubbed MPost that is basically your phone number. For shs 300 a year, you can use this number to send and receive physical documents e.g. physical letters. Okay, a bit of ranting – whenever I really need to send/receive a physical document, I use one those courier services, including but not limited to EMS that is operated by the postal corporation.
At the launch of the digital postal address, Safaricom interim CEO Michael Joseph had this to say, “Kenya’s economy is increasingly digitizing leading to the growth of online delivery of goods and services. Posta’s logistical capabilities and Post Office branch network are well placed to meet this shift. We are therefore coming together to create value for our customers by empowering them to conveniently and affordably receive parcels and goods wherever they may be across the country”.
When registering for MPost, customers will have the option of selecting which Post Office to pick their deliveries from by keying the Postal Code of the particular branch. Customers can also change their preferred Post Office at no additional cost by dialling *234#.
We have invested in the MPost innovation to meet the shifting demands of our customers in a modern, digital world. This partnership will enable Safaricom’s more than 34 million customers to access postal services from the 625 Postal outlets spread across the country, directly from their mobile phones,” said Dan Kagwe, Post Master General and CEO, Postal Corporation of Kenya
MPost box numbers will be in the format P. O. Box 254XXXXXXXXX” where XXXXXXXXX denotes the customer’s mobile phone number, for example, P. O. Box 254722000000”. Customers using the service will receive their mail at no cost as is the case with a traditional box, and they will receive an SMS notification whenever they have mail to be collected at their Postal Branch. The mail can then be collected over the next 7 days over the counter.
I am proud to state that Posta Kenya has identified the importance of technology by developing new ground-breaking products that complement its core mandate of delivering financial, communication and distribution solutions to its customers. This partnership demonstrates the confidence that Safaricom has in Posta Kenya’s capacity in provision and delivery of efficient services to its customers, said Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
Customers can also choose additional services such as physical delivery of mail to their door step, or mail pickup for delivery. Both services will be offered at an additional fee per delivery based on the source or destination.
The partnership looks to address numerous challenges faced by Kenyans around postal services and logistics. According to government data, more than 4,000 driving licenses are returned every two months due to failure of their owners to collect them. Kenyans have also been sharing Postal Boxes compromising their privacy and confidentiality especially for sensitive deliveries or leading to mail recipients being unaware when they have due mail.
Kenyans without a Post Office Box also miss out on opportunities such as ecommerce. Data from the Postal Corporation of Kenya shows that AliExpress now accounts for more than 62 percent of their deliveries following the latter’s partnership with M-PESA in March 2019.