Nigeria Maintains Lead in Africa’s Digital Economy

Eric Ojo Apr 21, 2016 at 11:01am

April 21, 2016 at 11:01 am | Money Moves, Tech & Innovation

Eric Ojo

Eric Ojo | Staff Writer, F2FA

April 21, 2016 at 11:01 am | Money Moves, Tech & Innovation

Nigeria's leading online retailer Jumia is part of the growing e-commerce market that has kept Nigeria out in front of Africa's digital race. (Photo: The Economist)

Amidst a dwindling economy, infrastructural deficiencies and developmental teething challenges, Nigeria has continued to maintain the lead in Africa’s drive for digital economy.

Ideally, e-commerce and other internet-mediated businesses thrive in countries with high literacy rates, good educational systems, functional road networks and other infrastructural facilities and importantly, a populace that is not hesitant or fearful about spending online.

Nigeria may not have fully gotten some of these indices right, but the West African nation is paradoxically forging ahead as a continental trail blazer in the digital space. In terms of internet access, Nigeria currently has a slight edge over South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Information Technology (IT) and software experts say that Nigeria’s leadership in the fast growing e-commerce and online businesses in Africa is premised on the country’s huge market potential, which has reportedly attracted investments worth over $200 million in the last three years.

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In addition, a recent report by Ipsos, an IT research firm that conducted a survey on behalf of PayPal, disclosed that 84 percent of online shoppers in Nigeria already shop online from outside the country or expect to start doing so in the future.

Lending his voice to this trend, the Regional Director of Sage West Africa for companies in Nigeria, Magnus Nmonwu, said that with more than 93 million internet users in Nigeria (Nigeria Communications Commission Statistics), the region’s people will form a formidable digital marketplace.

“In Nigeria, Facebook currently has more than 15 million users monthly. These internet users want the speed, simplicity and convenience of buying goods and services right from their mobile phones. As employees, they want mobile and web tools to help them do their jobs from anywhere at any time,” he said.

Nmonwu also noted that with the rapid growth of the mobile web, e-commerce and social media in West Africa, leading employers are thinking of how they can use technology to engage with their workforce, adding that businesses that choose not to keep up with changing consumer and employee behaviour will most probably lose ground to their competitors. He further explained that companies in Nigeria and the rest of the region who do not embrace the digital world will be at a serious disadvantage compared to their competitors.

It may be recalled that as a result of the Ipsos’ study, PayPal, Nigerian e-commerce venture and Mall For Africa (MFA) sealed a partnership deal with a view to offer consumers the benefit of additional payment options. Prior to the partnership with PayPal, MFA had successfully facilitated access for Africans to US and UK consumer retail sites for four years.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder of MFA Chris Folayan said teaming up with PayPal will facilitate payment through the internet and on mobile as well as improve the shopping experience for African consumers. “We pride ourselves in offering a seamless experience for both our customers and retail partners and we couldn’t be happier with adding PayPal as an option,” he stated.

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