By Angela Nkwocha
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) has agreed to work out a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on financial inclusion, geared towards achieving the current administration’s drive for a digital economy.
The two agencies agreed to set up a committee to work out the details of the MoU during a courtesy visit by the NIPOST management to the NCC’s headquarters in Abuja.
They agreed to partner in other areas such as verifications of addresses of SIM cards owners, Internet access for people in rural areas and provision of e-governance services to the people in all the local government councils of the country.
The Postmaster General and Chief Executive of NIPOST, Mr Ismail Adewusi said the visit was aimed at seeking partnership, interventions as well as to collaborate and partner with the agency on internet and broadband expansion, financial inclusion and provision of demographic data amongst others.
He said his predecessor fought tooth and nail on the right of NIPOST to the ownership and collection of stamp duty, but that up till now the matter had not been resolved thus appealed for collaborative efforts in the area of expanding broadband penetration, particularly in the rural communities, where the NIPOST had existing presence in order to improve and ease their duties.
“We are also setting up transport and logistic company to serve the purpose of parcel and mail delivery. We have properties in all the 774 councils in the country. We are opening up the knowledge base of the people for Nigerians to know what the new NIPOST is doing.”
The PMG further said that one of the major areas NIPOST wanted to optimise was the post office bank, which he said was a big business, adding that it was an active government financial inclusion strategy that would boost the economy of the country.
“In the world at large we now have many postal services not only sending mails but auxiliary services around the globe.
“We want to find a way to tap into the symbiotic relationship that we all have in common as a parastatal agency under the ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
“For us, our agency is going through a lot of transformation at this point so there cannot be any better time to seek for this kind of partnership than now,” he said.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta said NIPOST is strategically positioned to work together with the NCC to deepen access to internet services in the rural areas.
He said an area of common interest between the two agencies, has to do with the issue of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), adding that the commission was making efforts to reach amicable resolution between the banks and the telecommunications operating companies.
He noted that the commission signed an MOU with the CBN in order to reduce the number of Nigerians excluded from joint financial services to only 20 percent.
Danbatta called for more awareness of campaign to educate Nigerians about the new NIPOST and also called for continuous collaboration among agencies under communications.
“We hope we can raise the financial inclusion penetration to 80 per cent. It is about 60 per cent at the moment. On the USSD issue, we need to get permission from the Minister who issued that important pronouncement on behalf of the government that the USSD service should be suspended.
“We have written to the Minister making a very strong and convincing statement to revisit so that financial inclusion penetration is not retarded through the sanction,” he said.