Namibia: Interview with Sakaria H. Nghikembua

Sakaria H. Nghikembua

Chief Executive Officer (Namibia Post Limited)

Sakaria H. Nghikembua

Since its creation in 1992, NamPost has provided a service to customers from more than 120 offices countrywide. Could you give us your thoughts on the evolution of the NamPost activities from its creation to today?

NamPost has come a long way since commercialization in 1992. Before 1992, NamPost was part of a Government department called the Department of Post and Telecommunications. It was, so to speak, part of Government proper. As part of Government, the Post Office was funded from Central Treasury. Today, we are a self funding business organization. We generate our own funds to sustain our activities, to develop our infrastructure and systems; and basically to look after ourselves.
In the intervening years, we have invested substantially in IT systems to ensure that we are able to provide a cost effective and efficient service to our customers.
These IT systems include the SAP system, Globus for our banking operations and its successor the Universal Electronic Payments Systems (Smart Card), Riposte for Post Office counter transactions and Winfreight for courier operations. In addition to investing in information technology systems and platforms, we have also invested in our employees. We have invested, and continue to invest, in the training of our people. Such investment is necessary to ensure that our employees have the requisite skills to serve our customers efficiently.

Furthermore, we have put in place a solid Corporate Governance framework through the crafting and implementation of various company policies and procedures. These policies cover areas such as recruitment, employee development, risk management, investment management, procurement of goods and services, and many others.

In sum, NamPost has become a true Namibian service-provider. I must indicate, though, that we can never say that we have perfected our customer service practices. This remains an area of challenge and focus for us. With all the investments in infrastructure and people, we are confident that we will succeed in this area, too.

Could you tell about some of the company’s key figures?

Let me answer this question based on the methodology we used to categorize our revenue. During the immediate past financial year, we grew our core revenue by 21% - from N$149.5 million in 2004 to N$180.5 million in 2005. Core revenue is revenue is defined as income from our core postal operations, and excludes income from NamPost Savings Bank and Treasury Operations. . For the same period, Net Savings Bank Income (including Treasury Operations) increased 39% from N$25.5 million in 2004 to N$35.4 million in 2005. Profit before tax for the 2005 financial year is N$16.9 million, up from a loss before tax of N$3.3 million in 2004. Profit-after-tax shows a similar trend – being N$9.3 million for 2005 from a loss-after-tax of N$1.7 million in 2004. Based on those results, we achieved a rate of return on Shareholders’ equity of 28% for the 2005 year - which is well above our target of 12%. Those are the key figures with regard to the financials. Other key figures: 120 branches country-wide with over 350 counters or service points in these branches, served by 700 employees.

NamPost recently introduced the Smart Card in order to deliver better service. Could you please tell us a little bit more about the main points of this Smart Card and its advantages?

We have introduced the Smart Card to replace our Savings Books. As we speak, we are busy with the conversion process, and everything is going well. Key advantages of the Smart Card are that is secure, multi-functional, efficient and works off-line. There are many other advantages which the Smart Card confers on both NamPost and its customers, but time and space do not allow for an exhaustive list here.

NamPost wants to achieve the blue-chip status by 2010 and be the communication, financial and courier service provider of choice. What are the main challenges and what is your short term plan for the next 5 years

We need well trained employees. That is one challenge we have at the moment which we are diligently addressing. We need to have state-of-the-art and integrated Business Systems. That is a second challenge which we are also addressing. Coupled with training and good business systems, is the issue of Customer Service. It remains a challenge. The other challenge is how to maintain sustainable levels of revenue growth and profitability. These are some of the key challenges we face. But all of them are being addressed systematically.

Could you tell us more about any upcoming projects the company may have?

Smart Card is one of them. We have started with implementation but have not completely embedded it yet. We are rounding off now. From April, we will be upgrading Riposte. Other key projects relate to physical infrastructure improvements at the post offices, and making more post office boxes available. There are also plans to upgrade our Training Centre. While we have started with some initial upgrades, this project will be completed over the next three years. Then there is Business Process Re-engineering. Through this project, we are reviewing all our operational and service-delivery processes to ensure that we become more efficient and customer-focused. The object of all these projects is to create an efficient organization; one that responds effectively to the dynamic needs of its customers.

Your Government has set a goal that you call “Vision 2030” which aims to see the country prospering in many ways (economically, poverty eradicating, attracting international investments, etc). How would your institution contribute to this?

We see ourselves contributing to Vision 2030 by fulfilling our mandate.

Your personal experiences are also of interest to us. Could you tell us about your career up to your promotion to CEO of NamPost, as well as your greatest accomplishment during your time as CEO?

I speak very little of myself. But since you ask so nicely, let me say one or two things. I have spent the last 11 years in managerial positions in both the public and private sectors. Before then I worked briefly in non–managerial roles. I came to NamPost 11 months ago from Telecom Namibia. I see myself as having succeeded in creating a sense of urgency about what needs to be done in the business; and also creating a sense of focus on things that matter to the business. That is probably the only achievement I can claim so far. The rest is done by employees at all levels in the organization.

We are here in the Republic of Namibia to promote the investment opportunities of available in the country. What would your final message be to our readers concerning these opportunities?

In Namibia, investment opportunities abound.. These opportunities are re-enforced by a stable political environment, a good Government Administration and clear laws and policies. We also have very good physical and services infrastructure to facilitate these investments. So there are excellent opportunities for serious investors. Namibia is, to my mind,one of the best emerging markets around the world.