Postal mail volumes fall five-fold in nine years

Monday September 16 2019

The number of ordinary domestic mails has been

The number of ordinary domestic mails has been reducing since 2009. FILE PHOTO 

By Christine Kasemiire

The number of ordinary mails sent within Uganda have dropped more than five times from about one million in 2009 to only 199,641 in 2018.
Data derived from a 2009 Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) report indicates that more than one million domestic ordinary letters were posted in the year compared to196,641 in 2018.
Domestic ordinary letters include those sent between people, otherwise known as personal mail, or those sent between companies within the same country.
While mails sent within the country peaked at 1.4 million in 2010, there has been a steady fall since, dropping to 693,453 in 2014.
The drop in mails is explained by the growth and penetration of various modes of communication such as mobile and internet technology, depicted through increasing mobile subscription from 16.8 million in 2013 to 23 million in 2018.
UCC in 2017 licensed one national operator, seven domestic couriers, five regional couriers, and six international couriers.
Mr James Arinaitwe, the Posta Uganda managing director, at the weekend told Daily Monitor the drop has mainly been experienced among ordinary personal mail.
“We do not communicate a lot domestically, but business mail is increasing because people receive prospectuses,” he said, citing schools as common users of personal mails.
Postal mails increase during the period leading to the end of the year, especially towards Christmas, however, e-commerce, Mr Arinaitwe said, is currently affecting the industry.

Domestic registered
For instance, only 13,916 domestic registered letters were posted in 2018, explaining the shift.
According to Mr Arinaitwe, non-government organisations, are the main consumers of registered letters.

The industry has, however, witnessed some good growth in domestic express mail nearly doubling from 36,000 in 2009 to 67,000 in 2018, speaking to the need for quicker delivery.
Postal services have also faced stiff competition from couriers such as buses, forcing it to enhance its express services.

International mail
Maintaining its bearing since 2009, more mails are sent between Uganda and the European continent than all other regions across the world.
Uganda received 199,103 mails from Europe and sent 158,392 mails to the continent in 2018.
The rest of the world also registered high numbers of mail traffic, followed by US while East Africa and the rest of Africa came last.

Uganda Posts Limited performance

In a 2018 Auditor General report, it was noted that Uganda Posts Limited had registered a Shs2b budget shortfall. The report also noted sustained decline in revenue collections for the last three years, which was attributed to changing revenue trends due to reduction in usage of traditional postal services.
Uganda Posts Limited was incorporated in 1998 with one million shares valued at Shs25,000 per share.
According to the Auditor General, a total of 999,999 shares are owned by the Ministry of Finance, while Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, and National Guidance owns one share.
A review of the financial statements, the Auditor General said, revealed that all shares were issued but only 779,487 were fully paid up, leaving a balance of 220,513 shares unpaid worth Shs5.5b, which denied the company funds to implement its strategic plans.
Uganda Posts Limited also had uncollected receivables of Shs7.8b with debtors’ accounts revealing debts ranging between 60 days and 180 days contrary to the company’s debt management policy 2016, which stipulates that the standard payment terms for debtors is 30 days from date of invoice.