A couple of days ago, I wrote a piece on whether AsaaseGPS could deliver the digital addressing system Ghana has been waiting for.
Today, the Digital Addressing System was officially announced by President Akufo Addo at a press conference in Accra.
The addressing solution is dabbed “GhanaPostGPS.” It’s basically the AsaaseGPS mobile app but with a new coat of paint and change in name.
I have a bit of issue with the name. Is it “Ghana Post” as in Ghana Post Office or something else….
So is it an application for the Ghana Post Office? That’s what I’ve been told so far but hopefully, more clarification will come in the next few days.
Everybody Gets A Digital Address
With the GhanaPostGPS, everybody can get a permanent digital address system by using a combination of GPS and the GhanaPost app.
According to the Ghana Post GPS website, the above picture is the format for the new addressing system.
The letter “A” refers to the region of the location (Ashanti Region), and “K” refers to the district (Kumasi District)
“5028” is the unique address within the postal code. The Postal Code and the Unique Address come together to form the unique digital address.
The GhanaPostGPS Mobile App
The GhanaPostGPS Mobile App is available in the Google Playstore and iOS App store. Users can search for known locations like the Accra Mall (see picture gallery below). The Accra Mall already been assigned a specific digital address (GL-152-3333) as well as a Postal Code (GL 152).
If a user wants to use the app for their home address, they can officially verify their address by selecting an ID type like Passport or driver’s license and enter their ID number.
No word on how the verification works on the back-end though.
Questions Still Linger…
It’s nice to see innovations like this come up especially when it’s trying to solve problems like an addressing system in Ghana but there are still questions which need to be answered:
1.Will There Be An Education And Adoption Exercise?
Let’s be frank. This solution is not easy to pick up and adopt from the get-go. There’s a lot of jargons and technical stuff going on. Ghanaians aren’t as good with mapping systems like Google Maps and now this concept might take a bit of getting used to. So is this solution going to be demoed to businesses and banks for them to use? What about government institutions? Will the Registrar General Department use it when asking for business addresses?
2. When Will It Work Offline?
Fun fact: This app doesn’t work offline. If it’s supposed to be an app for the entire country, how does it address the offline issue especially in parts of the country where access to data is scarce?
If I live somewhere in the Volta region and I want to verify my address but I can’t because my area is bad with internet coverage, doesn’t this app become redundant to me?
Maybe there’s an alternative solution that can fix this problem that I’m not aware of. Maybe a future update to make it offline will answer this question.
3. Was SnooCode “stiffed” in this?
As I wrote in a previous post, there is a question about whether SnooCode was “stiffed” in getting to implement this specific project, especially given that it’s one of the most recognized names in Ghana when it comes to digital addressing.
How come no one had heard about AsaaseGPS/GhanaPostGPS and how did they manage to win this government deal?
That’s a debate which will obviously be fueled with speculation and rumours. But then, another again, another mapping solution like what3words has a similar solution to GhanaPostGPS and they have a more refined system evidently. While GhanaPostGPS’s system divides Ghana into grids of 5m x 5m, what3words uses a 3m x 3m grid system. So were they included in the bidding process or were they even invited?
I don’t have the answers to that. Maybe there needs to be more transparency about the application process and how tendering works in government. Maybe journalists need to start asking more questions like this.
Will It Work?
That’s what we all want to know. From my brief interaction with the app, it seems to work just fine.
The question is, will it work in the long-term. It’s easy to get excited about the use of technology to fix problems in our system. But sometimes, when governments endorse ICT projects, some of us tend to get sceptical.
Ghana was supposed to have an E-Service system where users can easily register their businesses online without any pains. That hasn’t come through yet and we’re still waiting to see if it ever comes online. The Passport Office online application seems to be making headway but there are still stories of queuing and people using “connects” to go back door.
For now, let’s wait and see how this new digital addressing system gets implemented. Hopefully, it works and there’s a mass adoption of it. It’s ok to ask questions about what went on behind the scenes when it came to SnooCode but there’s a whole another topic which would need to be addressed by the tech community and government in general.
For now, let’s see how this whole addressing project works out.