African E-Commerce: Successfully Leapfrogging The Metrics of Fail

Postal networks are critical elements of the e-commerce chain, a UN report said, including home postal delivery as an indicator in a new global index to measure countries’ readiness to carry out business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce. ~ source

By these metrics, countries on the African continent such as Nigeria rank 101st on the global index, far below South Africa at 67th place, and Cote d’Ivoire isn’t even on the readiness list.  Why should this matter?

Jumia, one of the rising giants of pan African e-commerce, just opened 6 new hubs across the Cote d’Ivoire, and happens to be headquartered in Nigeria. On the other hand, South Africa has been struggling to get its e-commerce industry off the ground to meet its full potential.

While the reports such as these may  indeed be organized collections of tastefully analyzed data and well presented charts and graphs, are they able to offer any meaningful insight? This report presents The UNCTAD B2C E-commerce Index as a means for countries to assess their readiness for e-commerce and identify the areas that need further development and investment.

konga6-750x400

Konga Warehouse, Lagos, Nigeria

Yet, on the ground, the “least ready” countries seem to be leaping forward, building brands and developing ecosystems for the emergence of supporting services, employment opportunities and even, niche platforms.  How does all the hard work that may have gone into the creation of such reports help them?

Metrics – the attributes by which to rank or measure – may not always be universally appropriate, nor will they always represent the real world operating environment. As African economies emerge onto the global platform – both real and virtual – they may require new ways to measure opportunity and success.

Metrics that can realistically reflect their unconventional characteristics of cutting edge communications commingled with undeveloped infrastructure. Else the growth opportunities such as those in Cote d’Ivoire, which isn’t even listed in the UNCTAD B2C E-commerce Index may pass under the nose of international players.

Yes, Africa is starting from a very low base, but early investors like Rocket Internet’s Jumia know that its only here that one can show results like 900% growth in sales in as many months.

 

One Comment

  • Truly, E-commerce sites like Jumia and Konga, especially Jumia which is under the AIH (Africa Internet Holdings) alliance, in partnership with MTN, has found ways to distribute its services in the most unconventional methods. At least,methods that are unconventional to the western market.
    In Nigeria, I receive information on deals available on Jumia straight to my my phone through SMS because of this partnership they have with MTN, a telco. This means that even those with feature phones can click through on deals they are interested in. When Nigerians were afraid to pay for goods online, they created the pay on delivery method, even bringing POS machines for those customers who didn’t want to still pay with cash when their goods were delivered.

Join the Discussion

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>