The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has started a process to have a nation-wide numbering and addressing system to boost the uptake of e-commerce and improve service delivery.
Most homes and small businesses lack proper addresses, slowing down the growth of e-commerce that relies on timely and efficient delivery of goods to customers making orders online of through telephone calls.
Players in the delivery and e-commerce space, including Jumia and OLX, have concentrated their operations in major towns with more detailed street and building addresses.
“Many countries that have successfully deployed national addressing systems posit a strong correlation between physical addressing and growth of e-commerce,” Francis Wangusi, the CA director- general said.
“Further, research has shown that over 90 per cent of the world economy is now being driven by micro, small and medium enterprises, a factor attributed largely to the rapid adoption of e-commerce.”
The establishment of the numbering and addressing system will be done through a public-private partnership in a move aimed at aligning the process with the Constitution.
Schedule 4 of the Constitution gives the mandate of physical planning to counties, a requirement that has forced CA to seek collaboration with the devolved governments to ensure that county numbering and address system conforms with the national one.
A national addressing system (NAS) is a framework that provides for, among others, the naming/numbering of streets and/properties and coding to facilitate easy identification and location of such places on the ground.
It also involves the development of digitized maps for use in the management of settlements and urban communities. This is the latest attempt by the government to find a solution to the national addressing and numbering systems and unlock the potential it has on e-commerce.
In 2000, the Postal Corporation of Kenya developed a 5-digit postcodes system for geographical location.
Between 2008 and 2010, the government established an inter-ministerial taskforce whose role was to test project in Nairobi. In 2009- the Nairobi City Council established property numbering.
Under the new regime, CA is mandated to set standards and establish a national communications numbering and address standards.
The county governments will be charged with, among other things, ensuring that deployment of the County addressing system is consistent with the national addressing standards.
Roads and highway authorities will ensure that road naming and display of addresses, as may be appropriate, conforms to the certified national addressing standards and systems.
According to the Courier Industry Association of Kenya (CIAK), the absence of an efficient numbering system has presented numerous challenge especially in the delivery of good and services in Kenya.
“Majority of homes in Kenya do not have a name or number, rarely have a street name and definitely no national level post or zip code,” said Geoffrey Mwove, the CIAK chairman.