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                    General information about Ethiopian Post

The origin of postal services dates back to the middle Ages and was developed from the medieval system of royal messengers whom employed to carry government documents from one place to another. In most countries, the postal service developed in the 18th century when different means of transport such as mules, horses, camels and stage-caches were used to carry mail. In some Middle-Eastern countries even falcons were specially trained to carry written messages from one place to another. The first railway mails were carried in Europe in 1830. The establishment of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1874 is what greatly promoted international mail services.

Prior to the establishment of the postal service in Ethiopia on March 9, 1894 following an imperial edict, correspondence was conducted through messengers known as ‘melektegnas or postegnas’. These tough individuals travelled great distances, often on foot, overcoming rough landscape and weathering hostile climate. They endured the pangs of hunger and thirst and carried their letters over their heads, on cleft sticks (which later became the symbol of the post office still today) until they reached their destination. Ethiopian Postal Service was established nearly two decades after the birth of UPU. The second half of the 19th century in Ethiopia was characterized by the establishment and consolidation of the empire state under the protection of Emperor Menelik. Menelik found in the postal service, like the telephone and the telegraph, a vital means of exchanging information, first for political and administrative purposes and later on for public correspondence.

         It was in this way that Emperor Menelik entrusted the organization of the first postal service to Mr. Alfred IIg, a Swiss engineer who is also credited with initiating the construction of the Djibouti - Addis Ababa railway line and, along with it, the installation of the first telegraph and telephone lines in the country. In 1908, seven French experts were brought to Ethiopia to oversee the establishment of what was then known as the Ethiopian Ministry of Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones, as a single institution. Around the same time, Swiss postal experts arrived and started training local personnel.

The construction of the Djibouti - Addis Ababa train made it possible for letters, parcels and merchandise, which were previously transported on camel back. This was a crucial factor that greatly improved the pace and efficiency of the postal service while it laid the basis for the international exchange of mail. Then Ethiopia became a member of the Universal Postal Union in 1908.

      The first Ethiopian stamps were printed in Paris in 1894 and sold in Harar , Dire Dawa, Entoto, and Addis Ababa in 1895. The first souvenir sheet called "province Block", was designed and engraved by M. Eugene Mousson, the eminent French philatelic artist. They were seven denominations. Four of the stamps showed an effigy of Menelik II wearing his golden crown and the others picture of a Lion. When Ethiopia became a member of the Universal Postal Union in 1908, the occasion had been commemorated with the issuance of a new set of stamps that were also used for international mail until 1919.

In between the death of Minilik , 1913 and the coronation of Teferi Mokonen as Emperor Haile selassie, in 1930 witnessed the slow but steady improvement of Ethiopian post. Until the Italian invasion of the country in 1936, the General Post Office and two branch offices were established in Addis Ababa. There were also Thirty-six post offices opened throughout the empire. The expansion of postal services was subsequently detained by the Italian fascist invasion. The occupying forces destroyed the offices in the regions with the exception of those in Harar, Dire Dawa and Addis Ababa. They had attempted to re-orient the Ethiopian Postal Service to meet their own needs.

            Following the defeat of the Italian fascist forces and the restoration of Ethiopian independence in 1941, everything had to start from scratch again. The Ministry of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones was established in order to expedite the reconstruction of the country's war-ravaged telecommunication system. The postal and telecommunication offices were separated in 1953 and the task of restoring the postal services and the regular mail and postal organization continued briskly until the issuance of the postal proclamation in 1966.

            The proclamation providing for the establishment of the post office, also known as proclamation No. 240 of 1966, laid the administrative infra-structure for the improvement, expansion and modernization of the postal system. Under the proclamation, the post office was organized as an independent department of the Ministry of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones.

            The post office was granted autonomy and was headed by a Director General. The Director General in turn discharged his duties under the supervision of Minister. The general administration and financial execution of the post office was directed from the postal headquarters in Addis Ababa. There were 12 postal districts each headed by a Head Postmaster, co-ordinate and directed by the Postal Services Division at the Headquarters.

 According to the proclamation, “The Ethiopian postal Service has the right to operate the transport of postal articles and the performance of all services incidental thereto, including, without limitation, receiving, collecting, dispatching and delivering postal articles, the acceptance and remittance of limited sums of money by means of postal and money orders, the management and control of postal packets and parcels, the maintenance and operation of philatelic and related services as well as carrying out agency services.

                        The construction of the General Post Office building in 1969 provided adequate space for the introduction of new areas of postal services.   The postal museum (which is located in GPO ground floor) also built after 7 years of the general post office.          

With an area of 1.1 million sq.km and a population of over 110 million, Ethiopia has at present over 835 post offices and over 170,000 post boxes. It is estimated that one post office is serving 131,737 inhabitants while one private box serves 5647 people.

       In the result of opportunity’s and challenges, Ethiopian postal service establishes EMS (express mail service) in 1989. The introduction of EMS has made the Ethiopian Postal Service competitive in the express delivery market. In 2009 It was established as governmental Enterprise by proclamation number 165/2009 and granted all the rights and obligations under proclamation no 240/1966.

Currently Ethiopian postal service rend services like

  • letter post service
  • parcel post service
  • Financial service
  • Express mail service
  • Philatelic service
  • Agency service
  • Transport services (post Bus)
  • Post box  Service
  • Advertisement services through post boxes (direct advertisement)
  •  Postal museum
  • Logistic Service
  • Door to Door acceptance and delivery Servic
  • Local and International money transfer
  • Post shop
  • Passport delivery
  • NGO Payment and ministration
  • Agent Banking
  • Pension Payment
  • Diplomatic Pouches Service
  • Delivery of Biological samples service for EPHI and Blood Bank
  • Handling of non-café student tuition payment 


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