Across the world, there is undoubtedly a boom in e-commerce. More interestingly, there is significant growth in e-commerce volumes across Africa too. It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic and the related lockdowns and work-from-home arrangements have played an important role in spurring e-commerce activity across the continent.
What has been interesting to observe as well is some countries that are not the “usual suspects” (e.g. Zambia) featuring among the list of countries with significant e-commerce volumes (as per Visa data). Even more interesting are some of the highlights and features of e-commerce across Africa.
Beyond just growth in economic activity and the growth of the e-commerce marketplaces, this spike in e-commerce growth has some second-order effects along the supply chain. There are many organizations and people that benefit when there is a growth in e-commerce activity, however, the two more significant beneficiaries are last-mile delivery operators as well as digital payments companies.
Given a lack of infrastructure as far as national post offices and their delivery capabilities go, we have observed a significant investment in last-mile delivery services by various companies and even the e-commerce platforms themselves. With technology solutions (e.g. requiring a GPS location and not an address, integration of mobile money as a payment option) and the right transportation solutions, it is possible to enable e-commerce across the continent and help the industry grow.