By Adunola Oladapo –
To increase the number of inhabitants that receive mails at home in Nigeria from its present appalling 25 percent and set a new template for postal service in the country, the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) has adopted an innovative global addressing system known as what3words. The new platform which is a ‘Roadmap to Posting the Post to Posterity’, will as well improve delivery services in preparation for the takeoff of Nigerian e-commerce.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous country with approximately 184 million inhabitants is the seventh country to adopt what3words, and the third in Africa, as the system is already being used for mail deliveries in Mongolia, Sint Maarten, Cote d’Ivorie, Djibouti , Tonga and Solomon Islands.
The Post Master General and Chief Executive Officer of NIPOST, Barrister Bisi Adegbuyi said “Nigeria’s poor addressing system means 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”.
Determined to improve this situation, he said, NIPOST 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, adding that “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”
Available in 14 languages, with much 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.
“We are very pleased to be collaborating with what3words as an addressing solution with the huge potential to unlock opportunities,” said Barrister Bisi Adegbuyi, who stressed that 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.
Speaking about the e-commerce edge of the innovation, Chris Sheldrick, CEO and Co-founder of what3words said that with a rapidly growing e-commerce ecosystem, Nigeria is a very exciting country to be working with. “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”, he said.
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.