By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Nigeria’s postal service, NIPOST, has just announced its adoption of the innovative global addressing system ‘what3words’ of which Nigeria is the seventh country to adopt the what3words, and the third in Africa.
NIPOST will use what3words to increase the number of homes it can deliver to and improve delivery services in preparation for the take-off of Nigerian e-commerce
Even as the most populous country with approximately 184 million citizens, Nigeria’s poor addressing system shows that only 20% of its inhabitants receive mail at home. 79% of homes and businesses cannot receive deliveries to the door, and the remaining 1% receive their mail using one of the 478,000 P.O. boxes throughout the country. A postcode system does exist, but only 5% of mail gets properly addressed with the postcode, hampering the efforts of NIPOST to improve its quality of service.
NIPOST in its determination to improve the situation has set itself the ambitious target of increasing home delivery to 70% within the next 2 years and 90% by 2020 through the Mail for Every House Initiative (MEHI), and has adopted what3words to help it achieve these goals.
The innovative global addressing system has divided the world into 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares, each with a unique 3 word address. It means that every home and business in Nigeria has a simple and accurate address that is easy to remember and to use. For example ///bracelets.hesitations.mutes refers to the exact 3m x 3m square at the entrance to the main post office in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
Available in 14 languages, with many more currently in development, what3words is used in over 170 countries by governments, postal services, logistics companies, emergency services and NGOs, as well as individuals.
It is more accurate than traditional street addresses, simpler than landmark-based directions, and easier to remember and communicate than GPS coordinates. The system has built-in error detection and is available through a free mobile app and API integration. The system even works offline, without a data connection.
According to the Postmaster General, Barrister Bisi Adegbuyi,“We are very pleased to be collaborating with what3words as an addressing solution with huge potential to unlock opportunities.Better addressing is a key to NIPOST’s agenda, which aims to transform, innovate, and deliver more services to more people all over the country”.
Young people make up 62% of Nigeria’s population, and this is reflected in the significant increase in cross border e-commerce in the country; 53,612 parcels and packets were handled in 2016 (approx. 200 per day) which is up 70% since 2014. The e-commerce market is currently worth $12 billion, but there is still huge potential for growth.
With improvements to infrastructure, innovation around payment systems and a reliable addressing system, Nigerian e-commerce could be set to take off at an incredible scale.
“With a rapidly growing ecommerce ecosystem, Nigeria is a very exciting country to be working with,” said Chris Sheldrick, CEO and Co-founder of what3words. “Postal services have a critical role in building a strong economy and NIPOST are firmly focused on the future, and are taking steps to modernise and grow their capacity and range of services.”
The system is already being used for mail deliveries in Mongolia, Sint Maarten, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Tonga and Solomon Islands.