Good Work in AfricaBy
Continuing to deliver on its Address for Everyone campaign, the UPU announced today that Addressing Specialist Patricia Vivas recently conducted a workshop for five English speaking African nations to begin the process of developing address systems. The five countries in question were Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. In some of these countries, such as Nigeria, there exist systems already.
The press release underscores the need for standardized and reliable addressing and outlined some of the work that was conducted. The program as described concentrates on helping postal operators become more efficient in processing and delivering mail, collecting taxes, paying out benefits and processing fund transfers.
Notes the UPU, “With proper addressing, citizenship becomes that much more meaningful: being able to locate people geographically makes it easier to send election ballots, issue ID, provide access to regular administrative services, and send bills.”
All of this is undoubtedly true, and we fully support the UPU in its work. But, we also believe there is another element that should be included in this work and in these programs. That element is provision for making the address databases available to government agencies and businesses on reasonable terms so that the data within these databases may be put to an even wider economic and social use. For example, in a mobile society, which most countries in Africa are, it is important for businesses and government institutions to know where citizens and consumers have moved their residences. Consequently, address data and change of address data should be made available to the business community so that all relevant institutions, public and private, have current and accurate addresses and may reach those citizens.
In short, any complete system of addressing would include provision for licensing address and change of address data to private industry and for engaging the private sector in developing products and services around the address in order to more widely disperse this critical infrastructure element. The Global Address Data Association will continue to advocate this position in the years ahead.