Wednesday, September 23, 2020

BotswanaPost gears for Postbank transformation

When the revamped Botswana Postal Act finally comes out of parliament, probably after the July sitting, BotswanaPost will be a totally different organisation.

Apart from providing the conventional post office services, it will provide banking services for under-banked and unbanked segments of the society.

This week Pele Moleta, Director General of the parastatal, told Sunday Standard that the merger of Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) and BotswanaPost is expected to be concluded in 12 months.

“The majority of the citizens are in the areas that are either under banked or unbanked,” explained Moleta.

“BotswanaPost is in a better position of financial inclusion,” he said, looking at the larger footprint of the organisation, which is bigger than all the commercial bank branches.

Although the move will be seen by critics as allowing a government funded entity to enter the private sector terrain, Moleta explained the move will complement the banking industry.

Already, a local bank that is moving into the retail space is understood to have contacted the post office for possible use of its network of 140 braches around the country.

“As opposed to competing with the banking industry, it will complement the banks,” he said.

Moleta revealed that the mandate of the post office world wide has always been agencies of government that deliver services to the community, adding the idea is that it should always be affordable.

Currently, government schemes like Old Age Pension and Ipelegeng Programmes payments are made through the post offices.

“It is all about helping government to deliver on the promises it made to the people,” he said.

Currently, commercial banks in the country combined do not match the BotswanaPost network, which has also attracted partnerships from BPC, WUC, MVA Fund and Department of Transport.

“Boldly, we see ourselves as an enabler of government projects,” he said, adding that they want to be an icon of service delivery.

The post office will also be instrumental in the government’s roll out of e-government services therefore cheapening costs for Batswana as they can apply online for passports and get them delivered to them in the rural areas.

Equally, Moleta says the envisaged post bank will help in the drive for a savings culture amongst Batswana, because they will have easy access to their money if they deposit it with the post office.

Moleta also revealed that BotswanaPost has adopted a strategy that will see the organisation revamped, modernised, transformed and diversifying portfolios.

The diversification drive will see the organisation moving into the property, business development, logistics and courier space.

Already, there are possibilities of letting when the Main Mall branch has been refurbished by putting up a four storey building with an underground parking lot, a project that will begin this year.

The post office also wishes to transform the way it conducts its business so that it provides good service that customers can always go back to with pride.

It is also in the process of building a P44 million sorting centre that will process 36, 000 mail items per hour while at the same time building a space to offer downstream products.

The project will be funded through commercial bank loans rather than the usual shareholder funds.

The other project will be to connect the post offices on automation, a project that is expected to be completed by December 2010.

Moleta also said as the post office moves to a post savings bank, Post Masters will become Branch Managers and will be empowered to take decisions without orders from headquarters.

To make business entity sense, the organisation also wants to move into ways of raising money like the listing of Medium Term Notes (MTN) to finance some of its capital projects.

Already, there is an appetite from the fund managers for a bond estimated at between P200-P250 million.

With the coming of banking services, it also means that BotswanaPost will pursue ATM project with ambition when the merger finally comes and closing and opening times to be reviewed.

A team of the post office employees has just returned from Japan for a benchmarking mission.

The equivalent of BotswanaPost, the Japan Post, provides insurance, banking and post office services.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.