Harare, (New Ziana) – Zimbabwe’s postal sector is on the verge of collapse after experiencing a massive decline in volumes handled in the past year, due mainly to the growing use of e-communication in the economy.
In the third quarter of the year, for instance, volumes dropped 25 percent to 1. 002 million articles compared to the second quarter.
All categories from domestic postal letters, domestic courier to international incoming and outgoing parcels registered declined in volume in the third quarter.
The sector’s regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory
Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) says this is because of the growing substitution of most of the services by electronic means, from letters to physical shopping.
“Postal and courier volumes have been consistently declining over the past year. The decline in postal volumes, in particular domestic, is attributable to e-substitution,” it said.
But Potraz says it also sees a silver lining for the postal and courier sector in the expanding e-commerce business in the country, at least in the long run.
While e-commerce is the process of buying and selling goods electronically over the internet, it largely relies on postal and courier services for the movement of goods.
That is where Potraz sees the future anchor of the postal and courier sector in the long run when e-commerce becomes strongly rooted in the economy.
“E-commerce needs to be supported as it is a pillar for postal reform,” the regulator said.
“The future of the postal and courier sector in Zimbabwe is dependent on growth in e-commerce.”
For now, however, the sector seems set to remain depressed as e-commerce volumes are still small, and most of those offering it are using alternative delivery modes.
Most of those using e-commerce such as supermarkets are not yet turning to the courier services sector but using their own means to move their goods in a bid to cut costs.
But Potraz believes it was just a matter of time before this changes when e-commerce volumes build up.