Regulations for Oman’s postal sector being readied

MUSCAT, AUG 28 – The Sultanate’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) says it is finalising regulatory guidelines for the postal services sector, which has been witnessing strong growth in recent years, fuelled by, among other factors, an upsurge in ecommerce activities. Also aiding this uptrend are initiatives launched by Oman Post, a subsidiary of ASYAD Group — the holding company of the Omani government’s investments in the transport, seaport, free zone and logistics sectors. These initiatives are in the form of freight services, last-mile delivery, express mail, enhanced traditional postal services and e-commerce.

“The Authority is in the final stages of issuing the regulations and guidelines for the postal services sector primarily to address the aspects of competition and quality of services; These would be aligned with the policy framework being developed by the Ministry,” said Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al Rumhy, Chairman — TRA. “The sector is witnessing the onset of active e-commerce activities involving all the postal licensees including Oman Post, who have established special arrangements for the last mile delivery of parcels,” he added in the Chairman’s Message prefacing the 2017 Annual Report released here recently.

Dr Hamed Salim al Rawahi, Executive President — TRA, added: “Ecommerce is gaining momentum and the postal service providers are rising up to (meet) the demands of the consumers by enhancing their service offerings by engaging with last mile service providers exploiting the ICT tools available for tracking and safe delivery of parcels.” While the exchange of traditional mails has fallen dramatically across the world in the wake of the growth of email and other forms of electronic communications, a combination of innovation and ecommerce is contributing to a reversal of this trend in the Sultanate. Incoming international registered mail has surged 58 per cent to 703K pieces in 2017, up from 464K a year earlier, according to the TRA. So have local parcels, which soared 117 per cent last year.

“International incoming express mail services account for the largest share of the postal services, comprising 50 per cent of the total express market. This is indicative of the dynamics of the Omani market and the gradual but continuous growth of e-commerce,” said the Authority in its Annual Report. “The growth of outgoing express mail shipments could also signify growth in e-commerce due to the increase in the volume of shipments from Oman to the rest of the world by 18 per cent,” it stated.

Traditional Mail Services (TMS), encompassing incoming and outgoing letters and parcels — local and international — jumped 39 per cent to 915K pieces last year. Express Mail Services (EMS), including ecommerce, shot up 21 per cent to 1.267K pieces. The total volume of traffic across both the traditional and express segments was also up 20 per cent to 2.183K pieces last year. Besides Oman Post, which has the sole mandate to offer Traditional Mail Services, 15 other private courier companies have been licensed to provide Express Mail Services in the Sultanate.

Conrad Prabhu