This is according to telecoms minister, Siyabonga Cwele, who also stated that the first element of this process involves a digitisation programme.
“We want access to broadband at every Post Office so that we can, firstly, improve the connection of the Post Office but also use them as a platform to interact with the people – platforms where the government [and] private sector can put their service-offerings to the nation,” he told CNBCafrica.com.
“That’s the first thing we are doing – improving the IT, improving the management and ensuring that every Post Office will be virtually connected to broadband. That’s the only way we can really roll out access to information to marginalised areas, to rural areas.”
Cwele, speaking at a telecommunications stakeholders meeting, in partnership with Neotel and the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), also emphasised the need to improve the Post Offices service-offerings following the recent unrest in the sector.
(WATCH VIDEO: Why you should care about the Post Office strike)
“We are pleased that we are meeting [just as] we resolved the strike in the Post Office. After lengthy discussions, we released the board and appointed an administrator. Within a few days the administrator has managed to identify critical problems,” he said.
“We call upon business to continue to use the Post Office, as we continue to modernise it. Our real problem is to identify new management who will be able to take the vision which has been set up by government, because the Post Office has got the widest footprint in our society.”
Upscaling the Post Offices’ banking services to the unbanked, through the use of Postbank, also remains a priority for the department.
“We are in the process of the application, we are engaging with the reserve bank. With all the difficulties with the Post Office, we tried to protect the Postbank division. We are doing due diligence, including assessing the appropriateness of those who must serve on the board of Postbank,” Cwele indicated.
“Clearly, mail volumes are declining. The business proposition and the business model of the Post Office has to change radically and that’s why we’re talking about these other services.”
He added that another priority is the linking of the Post Offices in the SADC region, especially neighbouring countries to South Africa, in order to assist with remittances.