E-Commerce in Africa is well underway and it has been a couple of years since this industry started to see the daylight and began to grow. There are hundreds of different e-commerce startups that are operational across the whole continent in different countries and these startups have the potential to create thousands of new jobs as the industry begins to grow. These jobs will be related to online marketplaces, supporting services, courier services, etc.
The growth of the e-commerce industry in Africa can be a face for sustainable development in the continent. There will be the opening of new markets and stores in isolated rural communities, women entrepreneurs will be actively taking part in the e-business opportunities where they were usually kept out of such business opportunities.
There is a lot of potential in the African e-commerce industry but there stand many hurdles in the way such as low consumer digital trust, poor infrastructure, and weak delivery logistics, just to name a few. But the African Leaders and International Community can help the industry grow in the following ways:
1. Update Policies
The whole business environment is shaped by the policies that affect everyone from the prices to payment options to IP protection and Africa is one of those areas in the world where it is lagging behind the rest of the world due to its policies. For instance, out of a total of 54 nations in the continent, only 20 have laws and rules for online consumer protection.
Imagine if all the countries have adopted these rules and regulations. It would become so much easier for the customers to trust online vendors.
2. Internet Accessibility
Africa has a huge population but only a quarter of that population regularly uses the internet because the costs are high and not everyone can afford the high-priced internet that is considerably much cheaper in other continents of the world.
Here Governments, Businesses, and International Organizations should play their role and work to provide affordable internet access to the people of Africa since the Internet has become a basic commodity of life. Having the Internet accessible to most of the population would boost domestic e-commerce growth alone.
Internet accessibility can also improve the lifestyle of the people and they will be exposed to all sorts of things. They will get to know more about what happens in the world, how other people are making a living through the internet, how they are socializing on the internet with people around the world on different platforms such as Omegle , Chatiw, Chatroulette , etc and using social platforms in their favor, how people from different parts of the world are running their e-commerce stores, etc. This all would help the people to know about a lot of things that they weren’t exposed to before.
3. Improve Logistics
The courier and logistic services in Africa are poor as compared to Asia, Europe, or America. The African governments should work together and implement the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) to reduce the customs costs that are involved in the cross-border exchange. Implementation of the TFA alone would improve the logistics very much. It all depends on the individual government how much they are willing to help their economy grow.
4. Enable More E-Payment Options
Enabling different e-payments options can also help the e-commerce industry grow. Currently, the most popular option of payment in Africa is Cash on delivery and this makes cross-border e-commerce difficult because the vendors can’t send goods across the borders without getting the payment first and the customers can’t pay if there are minimal options available or no options available at all.
Also, the policies are not adapted to the complex payment supply chains which means that vendors have fewer options to connect their local e-payments systems with services used by global customers.
The policymakers and the governments need to work on adapting the policies that will help the e-commerce industry flourish and also improve local and global payment system interoperability.
5. Coaching Small Businesses
The majority of African Enterprises are small businesses and they need to be coached about digitalization because digitalization is the key to a sustainable and profitable future. Many tech services and platforms are helping different small enterprises in Africa in digitization but more work is still required to coach the entrepreneurs about what is happening around the world and getting them ready to attract investments.
The required workers need to be coached on their ICT Skills and the youth should also be encouraged about the ICT since all of this is the future and only by this way will they be able to make their e-commerce industry grow.