In Africa, e-commerce is developing and gaining acceptability. However, the rate of adoption is equivalent to just 5% of the market. This leaves a lot of ground to be covered to properly explore the industry’s untapped potential.
Industry expert and chairwoman of Jumia Nigeria, Juliet Anammah, while speaking on the growth of e-commerce in Africa, said government support is essential to taking e-commerce to the next level.
According to Anammah, e-commerce cannot thrive without investing in infrastructure and securing government policies that encourage existing investors and attract new ones.
“While entering a new market, we look out for the state of the economy. Beyond GDP and economic factors, we look out for the readiness for internet-based businesses like ours. These are essentials only the government can make available,” she said.
Amammah commended African governments where Jumia operates for showing the political will to make e-commerce work. She also stressed the need for private investors to engage more with the public sector to further boost the digital economy on the continent.
“Governments in Africa have been supportive and are doing their best to see that companies like us are operating well. People say regulators are not on the same page with the private sector, but it’s the responsibility of the private sector to play an informative role. In most of the markets, we operate in, like-minded businesses form coalitions. In Nigeria for instance, we have an e-commerce group under the Lagos Chamber of Commerce. I am the first Chairwoman of the council.
It is in the best interest of the private sector to engage early, that way you can create dialogue, sometimes you are able to demonstrate best practices, provide parallels from other markets, and learn from them. Government(s) want to do the right thing, they just want to be sure,” she said.
In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari extended the mandate of the Ministry of Communication to include the digital economy. A National Economy Digital Policy and Strategy for Digital Nigeria was then developed by the Ministry. The policy which has eight pillars covers all aspects of solid and soft infrastructure as well as regulations.
Also in March 2020, the President announced the National Broadband Plan that aims to provide at least 10mbps in rural areas and 25mbps in urban areas and cover over 95% of the people in Nigeria.
More such policies and initiatives are needed from the government to boost the e-commerce industry in Africa.