MACRA invests 31 motorbikes for Malawi Posts to improve delivery of mail and courier for rural communities

Through the Universal Service Fund, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has donated 31 motorcycles worth K198 million to Malawi Posts Corporation (MPC) to improve mail and courier delivery in under-served rural communities.

At the handover ceremony at Chichiri Post Office in Blantyre on Monday, MACRA Board chairperson, Stella Chuthi said under the Communications Act of 2016, MPC is mandated to provide universal postal services throughout the country.

“Universal postal service refers to the basic postal services which the government guarantees all segments of the population, on a continuing basis, at affordable prices,” she said. “Such services are guaranteed to all members of the population, regardless of their location, race, religion or social status.

“The provision of universal postal services in the rural areas is a great burden to the public postal operator. One of the obligation of the public postal operator is to collect and deliver mail to rural and underserved areas.

MPC Board chairperson Jumbe receiving the motorcycles

“This is well stipulated in the Communications Act and their operating license. However, one of the constraints in the provision of this obligation is the acute shortage of transport.”

Chuthi added that one of the major tasks of the Universal Service Fund is to ensure that consumer of communication services, living in hard-to-reach rural areas, access such services at a lower and affordable cost which will stimulate the overall usage of communication services in the country.

She said 31 Yamaha XT250 motorcycles should help “to bridge the last mile from district post offices to the rural remote post offices”.

In her vote of thanks, MPC Board chairperson, Violet Jumbe emphasised that “communication is a basic right of the citizen, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, to which Malawi is a signatory”.

“As such, MPC must provide communication services in every part of the country — even in the areas that are not commercially lucrative. In fact, 80% of MPC’s post offices are in the rural areas.

“Unfortunately, the provision of service on a social scale has brought with it financial challenges to the corporation including inability to meet the cost of delivering mail.

Since MPC is regulated by MACRA and in the spirit of total inclusion as stipulated in its establishment mandate, Jumbe said “MPC must deliver even one or two pieces of mail across post offices spread throughout the country”.

“Sending a whole mail van to deliver very few pieces of mail is not cost effective, and this is where motorcycles come in handy. They fit in well with cost reduction, which is a fundamental tenet in our turnaround strategy.

“MPC is therefore most grateful to MACRA not only for the donation but also for operationalizing the Universal Service Fund which is provided for in the Communications Act 2016.

Jumbe delivering her vote of thanks

“The motorcycles will go a long way in elevating the financial challenges of the corporation, and ensuring efficiency in the delivery of mail. On a broader scale, they will afford MPC a platform to serve the people of Malawi better.”

In his remarks, the Fund’s committee chairperson, Pastor Charles Thangalimodzi said they are geared for projects that are aligned to the promotion of e-commerce, broadband connectivity, enhancing conveyance of mails, facilitating trade through electronic platforms, and aligning basic postal services to emerging technologies.

“The USF also will promote research and innovations to ensure the provision of services in the sector resonates with the evolution of technologies,” he said.

“In ensuring that no one is left behind, initiatives that embrace everyone in the postal space is fulfillment of a right to access to basic services that we must all uphold.

“Before us is a big testimony of this noble cause, and I believe it is the beginning of better things to come. We shall continue to close gaps in the communications sector and foster basic services to everyone everywhere and build an economy that leaves no one behind.”

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