Why Africa May – or May Not – Be the Next Major E-Commerce Market
By Marcia Kaplan
Africa has been a laggard in ecommerce for many reasons, including lack of internet access, poverty, a high rate of illiteracy, and logistical inefficiencies. Most of these problems persist but technology advances — notably smartphones — have given millions more Africans access to the internet and mobile payment systems.
Consequently, the continent may be the next emerging market to make significant strides in online shopping. Research firm Statista estimates that the ecommerce sector in Africa generated $16.5 billion in revenue in 2017 and forecasts revenue of $29 billion by 2022.
Africa is home to 54 countries and 1.25 billion people. Internet penetration is only 35 percent according to Emergent Payments, a payment platform provider. Few consumers own desktop or laptop computers.
Thus Africa is primarily a mobile ecommerce market. Mobile devices, in combination with mobile-friendly payment systems, have opened up new shopping opportunities in places where physical stores often don’t exist, and infrastructure is lacking.
Photo courtesy of Remko van Dokkum.