In a bid to save itself from being declared 'a closed shop' by its customers due to technological advancements the Zambia Postal Service Corporation (Zampost) has embarked on fresh initiatives aimed at introducing Hybrid mail service which is also known as e-Post.

This facility helps in promoting communication through letter writing between Internet users and people in remote areas without access to communication gadgets.

  The new e-Post concept aims at reviving the habit of letter writing which has over the years been under threat of extinction after the coming of the Internet.

The e-Post concept, which will soon be launched in Zambia aims at transforming electronic mail into physical mail.

Zampost public relations manager, Francis Mumba, said the country's postal service provider came up with the new concept after teaming up with Coppernet Solutions, an Internet service provider in order to bridge the seemingly growing communication gap between those with access to the Internet and those without.

"We are simply responding to the continued threat to the tradition of letter writing and the provision of postal service existence after the Internet which developed as an efficient alternative.

"A lot of people find it easy and faster to communicate using the Internet than writing letters, putting them in envelopes and then going to post the letter at the nearest Post Office which is a time consuming process," Mumba said.

According to a recent Zampost findings, the levels of physical mail traffic has over the years been declining.

The findings show that few individuals were communicating to each other through the use of physical mail.

Zambia Telecommunications Company (ZAMTEL) has now started making attempts to re-capture its market after the introduction of the Internet.

ZAMTEL officials said there was still some hope to recapture the market because the majority of Zambians have heard about communicating using the Internet but they lack access.

Mail sent under e-Post will be treated as priority mail status and expected to be moved faster than ordinary mail

Mumba noted that the Universal Postal Union (UPU), an umbrella body for all postal service providers in the world was encouraging Zambia and other developing nations to come up with means of integrating the new communication technology or resort to e-business.

ZAMTEL has acquired state of the art equipment which will enable it to easily use electronic mail to generate physical mail.

According to Mumba , instead of being pushed out of business as widely expected Zamtel is using the new technology to help it to create business for the letter posting service.

"ZAMTEL is set to use the new technology widely seen as a threat to its traditional postal service business to create more or additional business for the postal service provider," he stated.

He said that with the assistance from UPU, Zampost and Coppernet Solutions have jointly devised a formula which enables those who use their Internet mail box as a means of communication to send messages someone with no access to the internet through the use of a special coupon, which works like scratch card being issued to clients of mobile phone service providers.

The scratch cards will also be sold by e-Post vendors in Internet cafes.

He added that the e-post service coupons come in three types: Those costing K2,500.00 transferring mail from a Internet mail box to a postal mail box from Ndola to Lusaka. The service which will soon be opened to the public on a pilot basis being offered by Ndola's Kansenshi and Lusaka Main Post Offices.

The machines for the service have already been installed at the two post offices.

"It's just a simple process one just need to log in on the hosts web page address: and they will have their mail delivered to a person without access to the Internet by our express mail officers," Mumba said.

The usage of the service is not only meant for those living in Zambia. Some people living abroad also have access to the service as long as they have in possession the special coupon number.

Mumba disclosed that ZAMTEL has put in place measures which would enable as many people as possible to have access to the coupons, which would be sold in Internet café's and post offices.

Using the special scratch cards anyone with a post office address can receive as many messages as they could depending on the number of coupons the sender has acquired.

The Times of Zambia