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 . . .  GhanaPost’s Million Dollar Opportunity

Introduction

The first part of this two-part series introduced Ghana’s new addressing system and some of its interesting features and went further to explore the challenges Ghana Post faces due to new technologies especially the Internet, making it easier for people to communicate and be less reliant on hard copy letters. This second part discusses how Ghana Post can take full advantage of opportunities presented by GhanaPostGPS to ameliorate disruptive effects of the Internet.

The opportunity

In-spite of drastic decline in hard copy mails, business mails (i.e. bank statements, bills, business to customer mails) continue to grow and parcels cannot be delivered via ‘e-mail’. Additionally, and the main subject of this article, the demand for letter boxes at the post offices far outstrips supply especially in major cities. So individuals and businesses especially, require letter boxes but Ghana Post is unable to supply them and the solution is not to build more post offices. Letter box rental is one of the major and consistent sources of revenue for Ghana Post. Even with such supply limitations, Post Box Rental accounts for nearly 15% of its total revenue making it often the third largest contributor to its total revenue.

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With the advent of the GhanaPostGPS the letter box can now scale far beyond the constraints of physical post offices. This means any one requiring a letter box can and should now have one in-front of their homes or businesses – A letter receptacle with GhanaPostGPS address clearly printed on it. This will significantly increase Ghana Post’s rental revenue which happens to be a consistent revenue as well. This address has the added benefit of being GPS-enabled, one which other services can rely on without any ambiguity – e.g. Fire, Police, e-commerce sites like Jumia and more. It’s a mystery that we have lived without it.

As Ghana Post notes on its pilot door-to-door scheme in East Legon, it means customers now have the convenience of receiving their packages in the comfort of their homes and (in my words) don’t have to do the walk of shame to the post office only to inspect empty letter boxes. When done at scale and well patronized, I foresee a future where the network will carry enough volume/value that Ghana Post can afford to abolish recurring rental charges.

With ‘letter boxes at the home’, it is logical for Ghana Post to expect growth across majority of it portfolio.  Judging from its 2012 revenue by service line, it is easy to imply that four out of six of its services lines should see growth.

 

Ghana Post Revenue 2012

The next significant challenge to maximizing profits will be managing operational cost especially in the face of complicated last mile deliveries in many unplanned cities. Ghana Post can take advantage of the same technology that threatened its existence, to deliver efficiently. These include vehicle tracking, optimal routing and more. Here, forming the right partnerships is equally important. There is no reason why licensed third-parties cannot take care of last-mile deliveries for example. Thus, Ghana Post should not attempt to do everything and end up with the usual excuse of lack of capacity.

Installing these letter receptacles with GhanaPostGPS addresses falls well under the remit of Ghana Post and this wouldn’t be the first time they are providing such service. As compared to an assembly implementing this, Ghana Post provides homes the business case for paid uptake of this addressing – we do not want to burden already struggling assemblies in funding such an exercise. Ghana Post will ensure consistency in addressing, installation of letter receptacles and the collection of (owner) data. At present, individuals are left to generate their own addresses, this can lead to people living in the same house ending up with different addresses either because they were generated independently or they wish to defraud the system.

The jobs enabled in installing the package receptacles, the delivery of packages among others could be significant. However the achievement goes beyond that, addressing and efficient door-to-door delivery are a significant missing piece of our e-commence puzzle. With online payments (Mobile Money, Cards) maturing thanks to efforts of startups like slydepay/expresspay, solving the delivery piece will mean full e-commerce enablement.

Call to action

It is also clear that Ghana Post staff will have to embrace significant culture change – one that is value-driven and technologically advanced. Finally, application developers need developer-access to GhanaPostGPS so as to develop applications that integrate nicely with it – at the time of this writing, its website had no developer section or any support contact except for FAQs. Not providing support for this application plays into the distractive narrative which the suppliers (Vokacom Limited) should avoid if they are genuine suppliers.

In the end

The side-effects of proper addressing are well known and are thus not discussed here but it is worth mentioning the benefits to planning authorities having access to addressing data for revenue mobilization and development. For instance, my natural honey supplier in Kete-krachi (not easily accessible) can sit in the comfort of his/her lakeside hut and watch me pay online for my gallon of honey. Then (s)he will can package it, have Ghana Post pick in at her home (VS-044-1000) for delivery to my home at GZ-066-0103 in the same way (s)he would do for thousands of his/her customers. Relying effortless on Ghana Posts extensive delivery network for door-to-door merchandise delivery to grow her business beyond the confines of her town.

 

Author: Emmanuel Asimadi – (Member: Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana)

For comments, contact author emmanuel.asimadi@gmail.com