Nigeria has a snail-mail problem that creates serious issues, and it’s hoping a high-tech address system can deliver a fix. The postal service of Africa’s most populous country is set to start using What3words, according to the same-named company behind the system.
Through its Mail for Every House Initiative, Nigeria’s NIPOST postal service hopes to increase home delivery to 70 percent during the next two years and to 90 percent by 2020, and it’s looking to What3words for an assist, the company said.
The technology uses an algorithm to carve up the planet into 3-meter squares — 57 trillion of them — and give each a three-word label. Times Square in New York is “bolts.native.year,” for instance, and Boston’s Faneuil Hall is “atomic.camera.poem.”
“Nigeria’s poor addressing system means that only 20 percent of its inhabitants receive mail at home,” UK-based What3words said recently. That’s a big deal — even in the email age — because it makes it tough for folks to receive packages, tap into government benefits, sign up for electricity and water utilities and get help from emergency services. It can hamper businesses too.
What3words hopes to make money through use of its service, with big customers paying for access to its application programming interface. And its business hinges on adoption in developing markets, where postal service is poor.