Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, is on the verge of becoming the continent’s e-commerce leader as the sector is set for significant growth in the next few years due to the bonanza of broadband access, affordable data costs offered by mobile operators and the consistent development of mobile devices, reports from Johannesburg said.
DHL Express South Africa managing director Hennie Heymans said these factors will culminate to certain regions in Africa soon overtaking South Africa in terms of e-commerce activity.
He singled out the West African nation of Nigeria, whose Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector he said has grown exponentially over the past five years.
Heymans said Nigeria’s recent implementation of its five-year National Broadband Plan will see the country’s broadband internet penetration increasing by 80% by the end of 2018, therefore surpassing South Africa’s e-commerce market.
DHL Express has recently partnered with Jumia, Nigeria’s first and largest African online retailer outside of South Africa.
“The technological growth on the African continent has resulted in online shopping becoming a way of life for many citizens, and due to the lack of customs challenges and high import tax present within the region, the sector is likely to expand rapidly,” the DHL boss said.
Despite the continued growth and South Africa’s prominent e-commerce ranking, factors such as high import duties and stern customs regulations prevent consumers from benefiting from the expansive product choice and competitive prices abroad, he said.
“If these obstacles are not addressed, South Africa’s e-commerce market may be in danger of falling behind other emerging e-commerce markets,” Heymans warned.
Investigating the growth of e-commerce in emerging markets Jana, an American-based emerging market research company, surveyed 3 000 mobile phone users across India, Philippines, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.
Although the report ranked South Africa as the largest e-commerce market, which has shown an online retail growth of approximately 30% year on year, delivery time, in addition to internet connection was ranked as the largest obstacle when buying products online.
“With a population of over 160 million and an already thriving e-commerce market, Nigeria is becoming a game-changer in African e-commerce. We have seen a massive influx of requests with regards to our services in the region,” Heymans revealed.
Photo: Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling commercial capital