Thursday, May 6, 2021

‘BotswanaPost crippled by universal access and limited funding’-BOCRA

The Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has raised concerns that BotswanaPost finds itself in a challenging position because of universal access to postal services and limited government funding.

BOCRA reported in its Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) final report that although BotswanaPost has made considerable innovation efforts, it is currently premature to consider a specific UASF postal strategy when considering current government funding and the yet to be fully implemented universal service cost accounting and reporting. BOCRA also said a possible merger of BotswanaPost with Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) is outstanding. 

“Universal postal service provision has to be demand-based, in terms of what services are needed at which type of locations and with which frequency. Once that is known, the network and service can be optimized,” said BOCRA.

The Regulator further indicated that overall, demand for mail is slowly declining with 14.8 mail items sent per person in 2014 compared to 16.9 mail items per person in 2005. It added that BotswanaPost has stated in its financial report that it continues to make losses due to the requirement to provide universal postal services. During the financial year 2014/2015, the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) secured funding in the amount of P40 million for universal postal services, which have already been disbursed. MTC has also secured funding for financial year 2015/16 and has asked BOCRA to develop a contract for delivery of universal postal services and disbursement modalities. 

“While substantial preparations have been made, separate accounting and detailed reporting on universal postal services are not yet fully implemented,” reads the report. 

Further, BOCRA has just commissioned a market study of the postal sector, which is also to assist with developing a licensing framework. It stated that the study includes a postal service demand analysis as well as pricing elasticity of specific demands. Valuable information and insights of this study will help to reform the postal sector further and define universal postal services based on actual demand. 

There is also ambiguity on the distribution of postal offices and postal agencies regarding which size of village requires a postal office or postal agency. BotswanaPost has 124 post offices and 85 postal agencies. It is reported that, as it is a legacy postal network, the post offices and postal agencies are not always located in town and villages according to demand for services and self-sustainability. The report also said universal postal services need to be demand-based, and that BOCRA is currently undertaking a market study which will include important demand data and analysis for this. Also, several provisions of the Communications Regulatory Authority Act (CRA) from 2012 are not fully implemented yet. 

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