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The Post Office Is Dying While Everything Else Continues To Grow

Zimpost, Postal Services, Harare

Several years ago, in a humorous article, if I must say so myself, I lamented the dearth of the postman. Through no particularly profound insight on my part, I foretold the impending demise of the Post Office.

When I was a toddler the cheapest and easiest way to communicate was via the Post. You walked into a Post Office, bought an envelope and stamp(s). Took a piece of paper, a double sheet if you wanted to really rant, wrote you peace of mind on it, stuffed it into the envelope, attached the stamps, post it and many moons later it would reach its intended recipient.

Things have changed a lot since those dull and slow days. We have already said hello to much better technologies such as SMS and Mixit in the intervening period between now and then. Now we are spoiled for choice when it comes to instant conversation. We can cheaply make WhatsApp calls, Hangout calls, Messenger and good old email. And that’s not even an exhaustive list.


Everything else is growing

In the meantime, other forms of communications have been rising to fill in the gap. Actual voice calls have been increasing too driven by promotions. That will probably change at some point as more and more people join internet-related technologies.

 20172018Percentage Growth
Voice Traffic4.4 billion minutes5.3 billion minutes20.5
Mobile internet and data15 360 TB27 278 TB77.6
Used International Incoming Bandwidth capacity48 Gps85 Gps77.2
Postal & Courier Volumes8 million7.8 million-4.1
SMS10.9 million14.3 million31.2

As the table above shows, even poor SMS has seen growth no doubt driven by bulk SMS and it’s increased use in the banking and FinTech world. People now receive the bulk of their communications from companies, for example, Ecocash and bank balances. Also as people become more security conscious they are using SMS as part of two-factor authentication.

The Post Office will not die

Some people wrongly assumed I had misspelt my early article on and meant to say the death of the postman. I didn’t. I mean dearth as in they have become rare and will continue to do so for a while. The Post Office will not really die.

You cannot, for example, WhatsApp your parcel from Bulawayo to Harare. You will need it to be physically delivered. In developed eCommerce has saved the Post Office. The size of the eCommerce market in Zimbabwe is rather small and the Post Office will continue to shrink until it matches that market.

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