Isaac Annan Riverson is executive secretary, Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission (PCSRC), Ghana. Riverson is a Lawyer and a Civil Engineer and holds B.Sc. (Hons) Civil Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi and Barrister-at-Law from the Ghana School of Law.
He is a Member of International Bar Association (IBA), Ghana Bar Association, America Society of Engineers (ASCE) and National Society of Black Engineers) (NSBF).
On his recent visit to Nigeria during the 5th Bowill Errands International Courier Summit, he spoke to peter ugwu on the need for a revolution in courier sector in Africa, West Africa in particular, citing technology as an enabler in the industry as well.
Creation Of PCSRC and Impact On Courier And Postal Sector In Ghana
The creation of PCSRC in Ghana has helped a lot. Prior to its creation in 2003, we had a sector that was quite aband
W/A Courier Hub Depends On National Regulators Commissions-Riversononed, so to speak.
The operators where left to determine their own operational guidelines; there were no regulations. And those who patronize the services did not have any Government protection as required. So, the Commission was established with mandate to licence and regulate the sector.
We have managed to bring the operators under this umbrella. With that coming into force, it then implies that the operators find a ‘sanctuary’ in the Commission where issues that concern them are given adequate attention.
And the consumers or customers are offered the opportunity of been served better because they can now seek redress when they are not served well.
In all, the Commission came to sanitize the sector. And it has never been the same since the creation; when you have such Commission, solely responsible for the day-to-day activities in the sector, much attention has been focused on it. In addition, we have Government’s support to carry out our duties.
We have realized in most jurisdictions, they tend to mussel the Postal and Courier sector together with the Telecommunications.
When that happens the telecom tends to take the lions share. The reason is not far-fetched; the telecom is more buoyant. But they cannot run away from the important of the courier.
Regional bodies like ECOWAS are fighting for the proper recognition of the sector, particularly, at the national fronts; from there we move to integrations for trades. We are talking about the movement of goods and services across the borders.
Businesses n the Sector
Since the creation of the Commission in Ghana the numbers of operators have risen to 70; although we acknowledge that some of them are small operators, who can only operate within the country. There are few large enough to carry out international operations.
In other words, there are local and international categories. The local category we have small, medium and large operators, same applies to the international. Each of them pays a particular fee.
So, when a company applies for a licence we scrutinize the operational capacity of the firm and then fix them into a particular category. With time, especially, when the operations are expanding the firm can reapply and could be moved to a higher category.
What happened is that the registered operators helped us to fine the unregistered ones; therefore, the number of illegal operators in the system has reduced drastically.
In spite this, it is not easy to get everybody on board, but gradually we are making the environment difficult for the unregistered ones to operate. In essence, it has enabled the emergence of new companies, while persuading the unregistered ones to regularize their operations.
We realized that due to the transportation difficulties we have; someone may need to move some goods from one place to another, especially parents who may have some parcels to dispatch to their children in schools at different parts of the country, may be weekly or monthly, the courier operators help them in dispatching these items.
What happens is that hence the operators are licenced, parents are very confident to give their parcels to get delivered to their children.
Now, it reduces costs, reduces number of vehicles that have to be on the road at a particular time, etc.
The operators have some fees they pay which go to the purse of the Government.
Simply put, that we are helping people realize their business agenda, restoring the integrity of the industry, while boosting the revenue of the State.
Most importantly, we had a national postal summit where we are looking at improving the quality of the service to the benefit of our people.
West African Courier Hub and Benefits
The benefits to the region will be quite enormous, because when you pull resources together, share ideas, obviously you will enjoy large economics scale.
We are calling for a West African courier hub where operators within the sub-region will have a Commission in-charge of the operations, sharing the common business tips in terms of movement of goods; obviously there will be business promotions.
First, there will partnership that will lessen tensions among nations.
For instance, it will boost the partnership between Ghana and Nigeria and other West African neighbours.
The services would have improved. Then, the African “indigenous” courier companies will feel a sense of belonging.
That is why during my presentation at the Bowill Errand’s 5th International Courier Summit I stressed for Nigeria to quickly set up a Commission; it will focus more on the solving the difficulties facing the sector.
I understand, presently, Nigeria only has a department that is in-charge of regulations. Meanwhile, the department will be consumed with issues that concern the sector.
Courier and postal industry is so large that a department cannot be able to handle all matters that arise within the industry. So, it is quite imperative that Nigeria gets a Commission; it will improve shoot the sector to a greater height.
And the operators are not supposed to seat on the fence in the quest for articulating a Commission; they feel most of the heats.
I also understand that there is a Bill resting at the National Assembly; they (the operators) need to keep educating the public who will in-turn add to their voices in advocating for a Commission to e set up.
Place of Technology in the Sector
Technology is something very crucial when it comes to the operations of the courier services, because we are talking about confidence in the system and efficiency.
The customers should be sure that their parcels are safe in your hands. So if you have tools for mobile communication and tracking equipment, it will enable the people to follow the trail of where their goods or parcels are at any point in time. The sector cannot make valuable impact in the contemporary society without the help of technology.
For us in Ghana we are looking at a model where courier companies collaborate with the telecos which will guarantee them some short codes.
The essence is to redefine the process; people can from the comfort of their homes or offices get to know about the movement of the goods and pick them up as when scheduled.
Therefore, technology id very crucial; that is what distinguishes present postal and courier industry from the days letters are dispatched from/on the horse backs.
House Numbering Challenges in Ghana
This is a very important aspect of courier and postal business. We have a body that is in-charge of house numbering.
Recently, the Presidency gave them an ultimatum to come out with a comprehensive system on the housing system.
We believe that with proper house numbering system live becomes easier for the courier operators.
Meanwhile, the system has improved over time. Just like we are clamoring for individual nations in the West Africa corridor to have a national regulatory commission, it is also crucial that proper house numbering system is in place to give the industry a clearer direction.
The point is that people shall be identified through their house numbers, because in this business the customers are not answerable to the operator alone.
Remember that in certain areas people have received dangerous parcels, like letter bomb. So, to contain that, the Government is working very hard to ensure the system is verifiable and for the maintenance of national security.
NCC Arrests Man for Hacking into DSTV System
Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), has arrested one Mr Aliu Olalekan, for allegedly hacking into DSTV system and watching the channels free without subscription.
Mr Matthew Ojo, NCC Director in the Lagos Directorate Office said this while speaking with newsmen in Lagos, on Tuesday.
He said that the suspect used to watch DSTV channels free without subscription on his Android phone via an app which he downloaded on google play store.
“This suspect distributed the know-how to his telegram followers and on his blog with the aim of gaining more followers and viewership on his blog and makes more money through google ad-sense.
“The operation was based on surveillance which had earlier been carried out by the Multi-choice team and verified by a copyright inspector, ” he said.
He added that the arrest was made in collaboration with a team of copyright inspectors led by the Head of Enforcement Department, Mr Charles Amudipe.
Others included; a team from Multichoice Nigeria led by Mr Umar Ibrahim and policemen from Lagos Command Headquarters, Ikeja.
Ojo said that the joint team conducted an anti-piracy operation at the premises of the culprit in Amukoko, Lagos.
According to him, the suspect was contacted on phone by a member of the operation team on the disguise of patronising him. “The suspect came out to meet the caller and in the process of discussion, he was apprehended.
“The suspect took the team to his resident. The squad paraded his one-room apartment and recovered his laptop and phones used in perpetrating the ungodly act. “He was arrested and brought to the copyright commission office for further investigation, ” he said.
Ojo said that, on getting to the commission’s office, the statement of the suspect was taken and the inventory of items seized from him taken. He said that investigation on the matter was still ongoing and if found guilty the suspect will be charged to court.
NCC, Digital Encode Support NITRA Innovative Tech Forum On Post-COVID-19 Strategies
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator and Digital Encode, Cybersecurity and Compliance advisory company, have indicated interest to partner with the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), the national umbrella body of ICT reporters, as it organizes a forum that will x-ray the industry’s future plans for ICT growth post pandemic era.
The event, slated to hold on October 15, 2020, will seek to discuss the needs for a fortified ICT sector after the COVID-19 era, and the level of preparedness of ICT stakeholders to embrace the challenge of being pivotal to the stability and growth of all other sectors.
A statement from NITRA National Secretariat in Lagos indicates that due to the pandemic and need to observe the COVID-19 protocol on social distancing, the event will be held via a Webinar.
This year’s theme, “Multi-stakeholder Approach To National Recovery Post-Pandemic”, is in line with the annual event’s generic theme, ‘NITRA Innovative Tech Forum’, a contribution by NITRA to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) innovations and policies in Nigeria.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC is expected to deliver the keynote speech at the event and will throw more light on Federal Government’s plans, programmes and policies on post-pandemic strategies using ICT.
Dr. Adewale Obadare and Dr. Seyi Akindeinde, founders of Digital Encode, while accepting to support the event expressed their readiness to offer their expertise in Cybersecurity for organisations to prepare against cyber- attacks with the new normal.
They will also highlight areas that are high risks that need fortification in terms of cybersecurity.
Speaking on the event, Mr. Chike Onwuegbuchi, national chairman, NITRA, noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave its negative trails across the globe, economic reboot for countries will not only depend on how well they readapt to the new normal, but also more on their recovery plans.
According to him: “While the federal government has consistently expressed its willingness to set all policies in place to engender growth, and accelerated implementation of these policies, private sector firms have also shown great hunger for the task ahead in post-COVID-19 era.
However, the question that needs to be answered is whether all stakeholders are ready for the required task ahead.”
The event will also offer participating companies opportunities to publicize some of their individual efforts at contributing to reacting a soft landing or lifeline for SMEs and other ancillary companies as the pandemic threatens their survival.
Digital Encode is a multi-award winning and leading consulting and integration firm that specializes in the design, management, and security of business-critical networks, telecommunications environments and other Information Technology (IT) infrastructures.
NCC Threatens Illegal Users of GSM Boosters with Arrest, Prosecution
Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has warned telecom consumers to desist from using illegal GSM boosters.
The commission also said that anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.
GSM boosters are devices that transmit and receive telecommunications signals and can therefore interfere with other radio frequency equipment.
Ikechukwu Adinde, director, public affairs, NCC, said in a notice published on NCC website, that only licensed network operators are allowed to use GSM boosters.
The booster, also known as amplifier or repeater is made up of three main elements – exterior antenna, amplifier, and interior antenna.
They form a wireless system to boost cellular reception
“Members of the public should note that, willful interference with any wireless telegraphy is an offence under Section 16 of the Telegraphy Act, 2004,”it said
The agency said it will not condone any flagrant breach of this law.
It has also enforced measures to prosecute offenders.
Accordingly, monitoring mechanisms have been put in place and anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.
“Any member of the public with useful information regarding the illegal use of GSM Boosters should contact the Commission on 09-4617000/7351 or send an email to [email protected],” the notice said.
“Individuals desirous of using GSM Boosters should note that they can only do so in conjunction with licensed network operators,” it added.
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