Talk Africa: Africa’s e-commerce Opportunity [Part 1]


Asia’s richest man who is also the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Mr. Jack Ma, visited  East Africa this past week. En route to the Youth Connekt summit in Kigali, Rwanda, Ma made a stopover in Kenya where he where he shared insights on entrepreneurship with students and young business people at the University of Nairobi.

The founder of Alibaba, arguably among the worlds’ largest e-commerce platforms, encouraged Africa’s youth to tap into the potential of the internet in business, to create employment and grow their ventures to global scale.

The picture on the continent has indeed been promising.Enhanced broadband connectivity, investments in energy and digital literacy have seen internet penetration in Africa skyrocket from just 4% a decade ago to 28% today; and this figure is estimated to hit the 50% mark in less than 10 years.

With a billion Africans expected to shop online by 2025, many tech start-ups are looking to cash in on the new wave of interest in e-commerce, covering a wide range of areas from agri-business, electronics, health to travel and apparel. Tech start-ups on the continent raised upwards of $129m in 2016; a 16.8% rise compared to 2015.

Also, with consumer spending in Africa on the rise, online shopping is estimated to account for around 75 billion of total retail sales, or 10% by 2025.

The continent’s e-commerce is growing rapidly at 25.8% annually against a global average of 16.8%. Nigeria leads the pack followed by S. Africa and Kenya. So how can Africa harness this potential for the benefit of its youth?