Abidjan/Bern, 9 August 2021. Speaking at the official opening ceremony of the 27th Universal Postal Congress in Abidjan, Côte d' Ivoire, the Universal Postal Union’s Director General Bishar A. Hussein highlighted the international postal sector’s innovation and creativity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Posts rose to the occasion and worked tirelessly and courageously to ensure that people in lockdown still received their goods and services. E-commerce received a boost as many of our customers turned to ordering services online, and the post picked up the delivery market,” said Hussein.
The Director General went on to say, over the last 18 months, the international postal sector has experienced incredible change, with some governments declaring the post as a critical infrastructure. In many administrations, governments used the post to deliver essential services including Covid-19 medicine and vaccines. The Director General also led a moment of silence in recognition of the bravery of postal workers around the world who kept the mail moving.
Mr. Hussein acknowledged this was his last official engagement as UPU Director General before his mandate draws to a close at the end of the year. Reflecting on his time as Director General, he said, “In spite of all the challenges faced, I am happy at what we have been able to achieve during this time. As I prepare to step down from my position soon, I exit the stage of this wonderful organization satisfied at what we have helped achieve for the Union.” Mr Hussein described UPU’s Deputy Director General, Pascal Clivaz, who worked alongside him from 2013-2021, as “A man of honor and courage. A true spirit of change.”
Held in Abidjan, Côte d' Ivoire’s economic capital and most populous city, the high-level Congress was originally to be held in August 2020, but was postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening ceremony included a welcome speech from the President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara who lauded the work of the postal industry. During the opening, the national ballet company of Côte d' Ivoire performed a “fresque artistique” by choreographer George Momboye. The ballet paid homage to the five continents with a parade of flags shown on a giant screen.
Other speakers included the Minister for Digital Economy, Telecommunications and Innovation, Roger Félix Adom, the Chairman of the 27th Universal Postal Congress, Souleymane Diakité Coty; and the President of the Economic Community of West African States Commission, Jean Claude Brou. The Director General of La Poste de Côte d’Ivoire Isaac Gnamba-Yao also took the stage to unveil the official 27th Congress stamp.
Over the next three weeks, participants from UPU’s 192 member countries will discuss key topics related to the international postal sector including the possibility of opening up the UPU to wider sector postal players and sustainable postal development. On 10 August, the UPU will hold a Ministerial Congress 2021 on posts and the pandemic. A series of high profile side events (“The Abidjan sessions”) on topical postal subjects begin on 11 August.