The Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) has partnered with Safaricom to roll out a digital postal service that will use mobile phone numbers like the traditional post office box addresses.
The new service dubbed MPost which targets 5 million new users is mainly aimed at growing e-commerce business in Kenya.
E-commerce customers who opt to have their parcels delivered to their doors will have to pay extra.
The service will rent out physical post office boxes to Safaricom customers using their mobile phone numbers, at a rate of 300 shillings monthly.
Information Communications and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary (CS) Joe Mucheru speaking on Friday during the launch of the Mpost said that the government is committed to ensure that even as international companies set base in Kenya, their investments like those of Kenyans are highly protected.
Mucheru said that the bridge that has been created by Safaricom and Postal Cooperation is great since at the heart of it are Kenyans who stand to gain a lot from the new services.
“The service seats very well with the agenda that we have for Kenya of digitization. We have E-commerce as one of the anchors of the economy and we are guided by big economies like China who over 35 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is e-commerce led,” explained Mucheru.
Mucheru said that this digital revolution will be led by Kenyan youth who have great ideas and innovations like Mpost that will have simple and local solutions to our local problems.
“Government has enacted laws that are key in ensuring the growth of the digital economy; we now have a law on data protection;a law on access to information; a law on cyber security; and so as we digitize it is critical that we have the right laws and therefore create an environment that will allow each and every one to innovate and enjoy the digital services that we have,” said Mucheru.
The CS said that one of the key products of Mpost is E-commerce and the big players in the sector like Alibaba and Amazon are already setting up shop in Kenya and their key challenge was how to get products to Kenyans and added that is being addressed by the national addressing system that is being worked on.
The Mpost innovation enables mobile phone users to have their phones as their post office box and they can move with it to any place within Kenya and they just indicate in their phones new locations and that is where they will be getting their parcels at a cost of Sh300 per year.
ICT Principal Secretary (PS) Jerome Ochieng said that in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report Kenyans indicated that they want the government to digitize all its services, processes, payment systems and record keeping to ensure they are secured from criminal tampering.
“Kenyans have said that they want complete digitization of land ownership and give data access to the citizens. They also say they want tough anti-corruption actions at the land buying and selling sector to offer relief and predictability to the majority of Kenyans who make a living off land,” explained the PS.
Safaricom Chief Financial Services Officer Sitoyo Lopokoiyit said that this is the most progressive government in terms of facilitating innovations in the country, which leads the way with products such as E-citizen, Huduma centres and M-akiba by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
“In July we saw the CBK hold the AfroAsia Fintech festival for young entrepreneurs to showcase their innovations. Two weeks ago together with the CBK Governor we took our top three fintechs in the AfroAsia festival to the Singapore hackathone and they emerged overall winners,” explained Lopokoiyit.
He said that Mpost is in the right direction to digitize postal operations in Kenya highlighting that Amazon has revolutionised the USA post because of the number of products being bought on Amazon and delivered by the post offices.
Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) board Chairman Nick Salat said that 70 percent of the Kenyan population are the youth and it is very hard for them to open a postal box since they want services where they are and the Mpost will address it.
“Today marks the turning point for PCK in that we are also not going to be left behind in digitization and we will be having a share of the E-commerce pie,” said Salat.
PCK Post Master General Dan Kagwe said that Mpost brings inclusivity to everybody, which is their mandate to make sure that everybody is served.
“Now we have affordability where with Sh300 every Kenyan can access our services. We have 450, 000 boxes today which has been achieved in 100 years if you take an average of 45 million Kenyans costing Sh1, 000 to get a post office box it would have taken us Sh45 billion but with Mpost we can roll it overnight seamlessly which makes more logistical sense,” explained Kagwe.
The service can be accessed by dialing *234*1*9#.