In my initial post, I spoke about the GhanaPostGPS and its technical shortcomings. Since then, a lot has transpired. I only feel it is fair to write a followup with my findings since then.
This post will not be technical in nature but will dwell on some of the issues that I have seen raised. Valid issues, issues even I raised, but which with some explanation, begin to make sense.
There has been admittedly, a failure to convey to people how the system will work and how it is intended to be used. This has led to conjecture and some misconceptions that need to be clarified.
This situation has been exacerbated by the trivialisation of the entire solution especially with that inadequate analogy of the Waakye Seller. Indeed, I care about recommending my waakye seller, but what I care more about is how this solution can improve my life?
Mistakes were made
A major problem I had with the system was the generation of multiple addresses per property. But that came about due to statements made by the government to the effect that one would not be allowed to have a Ghana Card without a digital address.
People immediately raised troubling questions: What if I lie about my address? Then the issues started being raised about multiple addresses and faking your location.
Adoption is a Process, not an Event
What went wrong? We tried to introduce a tech product by force rather than by driving adoption. Tech products are difficult products to introduce and they take time.
The innovation adoption curve demonstrates how a new product diffuses and penetrates the market.
You need cannot force it on people and expect it to catch on.
You need to make them understand the benefits and they naturally will gravitate towards it. Especially a system that needs to gain nationwide adoption.
Rather than say No Address, No Card, you can instead say, Your GhanaPostGPS address should be used when creating your Ghana Card.
This will lead to more people willing to use their correct addresses rather than evoking defiance and the intentional provision of wrong information.
It is also important to understand how this will affect people who do not have smartphone access and communicate how their address generation will be handled.
Lesson: Adoption takes time and effort. You need to drive it.
What is in an Address
Think of an address generated by the system as a simple representation of a point on the surface of the earth (land and water), because that is what it is.
What this guarantees, is that no matter your location, it will be possible to generate an address for you. With the minimum addressable being an area of 5x5m.
With this address, you can be found by using GPS Navigation tools which abound right now. This means you have an address as well as the added advantage of being found easily.
Do you own this address? No. It is the address of the grid in which you stand. You are only saying to the world, you can find me here!
Anyone else can use that address. There is nothing stopping them. But remember, the same thing can be done with conventional addresses.
So you are choosing that address for your personal use. That is why they recommend standing at your gate so whoever is trying to locate you arrives at your gate.
Placing an embossed sign on your gate gives the added advantage of confirming to whoever is seeking you that they have indeed arrived at their location.
Another issue that has been raised has been the that of fake addresses. The question mostly centred around faking addresses in the commission of fraud.
The thing is, what stops people from faking conventional addresses? Nothing. Same thing applies here.
In most instances, it will be detrimental to the person supplying the address if they use a wrong one. For example, in the situation where you are entering your shipping address for the delivery of an online purchase.
If your business relies on valid addresses before rendering a critical service, there is still the need to verify e.g. a bank giving out a loan.
The convenience this grants you is, instead of the usual drawing of an approximation of your location on a piece of paper. You provide a simple address that can lead verifiers directly to your house.
Just like with all address requirements, you are responsible for submitting the correct information. This just adds convenience.
Well, GhanaPost hopes that it will be able to revamp its business by the adoption of this system. I definitely see a possibility here. What remains to be seen is how this will be executed. I really wish them well in their endeavours. Anything that aims to create jobs excites me.
There are many possibilities I see this system being used for. Many of which, unfortunately, I cannot share here due to their commercial potential. But this has the possibility of opening up a sub-industry.
There are many value-added services that can be built around this system and savvy young entrepreneurs (both technical and non-technical) should have already spotted some of the opportunities.
I remain hopeful that we will have a homegrown solution to brag about. One we can export and which will help raise high the flag of our nation.
Addressing the technical concerns is a great start and the recent public disclosure of more information shows that a lot is being done.
However, the story of the waakye seller needs to end.