Thursday, December 1 2022

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

President of Jumia Nigeria, Ms. Juliet Anammah, said the African e-commerce market has remained largely untapped, accounting for only 5% of total retail.

However, she expressed optimism that her organization will work hard to close the gap by expanding its footprints in its current verticals.

Speaking in a recent interview with Darius Teeter of Stanford Seed, she said more and more tech companies are invading the African market, opening up more opportunities in the e-commerce space.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of online shoppers on the African continent is said to have increased every year, at an average growth rate of 18%, higher than the global average of 12%.

Statista puts the number of digital buyers in Africa at 281 million in 2020, estimating an increase to 520 million by 2025.

However, the current number of active users on Africa’s largest e-commerce platform stands at 7 million, showing the huge market gap that remains to be explored on the continent.

“At the end of the day, we’re the biggest e-commerce platform on the continent, and you’re on the continent where e-commerce is still 2-5% of total retail, which is a huge advantage.

“This is a huge area to focus on rather than looking into new verticals. Now we are deepening our footprints in the countries we are in, and our focus for now is on these 11 countries” , she said.

Given the vast untapped market, e-commerce brands are deploying innovative ways to explore Africa’s unique business terrain. Jumia has the JForce network which helps promote online shopping services in rural communities. The company has recently expanded its footprint by bringing hubs and pickup stations closer to customers in different communities across Nigeria.

Regarding Jumia’s initiatives to further deepen reach and market acceptance, Ms. Anammah said, “We are working to bring more sellers and brands to the platform.

“Another area we want to focus on is moving from high-value products to everyday products, necessities and consumables. This is where we deepen our presence.

“We have already seen consumable sales grow on our platform. Last year we saw that sugar and pears had record sales in some countries, unlike before where it could have been an electronic product.

Addressing the impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce in the continent, she said the effect of the pandemic on sales was more of a blow as the continent was already on a trajectory.

“I think the pandemic has been a blow to Africa. COVID-19 has not been a determinant of e-commerce growth on the continent; on the contrary, e-commerce had followed a trajectory given that you have over 500 million internet users and Africa is a mobile environment.

“So it’s almost like Africans are hungry to do more with their mobile phones, and e-commerce just happens to be one of those areas.

“If there’s one area where I think there was more awareness of the potential of e-commerce, it’s in public policy and agency where they found it’s something that can be leveraged for job creation and overall economic development,” she added.

Ms Anammah noted that governments and agencies in Africa have been supporting e-commerce and “doing their best to make businesses like ours work well”.

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