The African E-commerce Saga: Chapter Nigeria
The advent of internet technology globally has brought about a rapid improvement in virtually of spheres of existence. In economic, social and cultural areas among others, the internet never stops having its impact on different nations of the world, communities, institutions and even the individual. As of today, we are in the constant embrace of leveled-up ideas such as e-governance, e-learning, e-hailing, e-banking and quite suitably, e-commerce.
The web is bringing with it time and again new, exciting opportunities particularly in the aspect of the industrial innovation. Electronic commerce is one of such real-time opportunities that are changing the way people buy and sell, everywhere. While the channel has proven to be a vibrant reservoir of economic upheaval in first world countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas since the turn of the 21st century, e-commerce is as well witnessing some quick-as-a-wink growth in Nigeria and some other African countries such as South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya.
E-commerce has very well had its impact on Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) towards the fronts of job creation and wealth generation. With the fact that a robust legal frame of reference is vital to the right-on-track running of any vibrant and secure e-commerce system, policymakers in Nigeria are being compelled to harness relevant information to grow the nations’ economy. Millennials and hopefuls believe that with hard work and consistency, the country would be put on the world map of e-commerce revolution in a matter of five years or less.
The e-market space is a major part of the today Nigeria economy. As MSMEs are an engine of economic growth and development, making markets more competitive and resilient, they are directly and indirectly impacted on by e-commerce. Countries such as U.S, Japan, India, Brazil and China, small businesses have been a source of jobs for the teeming population. The success stories have not only been the spirit entrepreneurship but the support of technology inclusively. With the immense value information technology is creating, the economic potentials of Nigerian MSMEs can be tremendous. E-payment solution companies such as MasterCard, Visa, Interswitch, Verve, and significant others springing up in Nigeria, e-business has been so great a boost. These payment solutions are vamping up their services in a bid to meet up with the ever-growing demand of ease, safety, and speed as it concerns buying and selling online. As a result, small businesses can experience seamless transaction with each other and other bigger businesses in the space, ultimately leading to their growth and equally to the betterment of the Nigerian economy.
As of 2014, e-commerce in Africa was growing at a rate of 25.8 percent. In a headlock against the rest of the world’s 16.8 percent, the then growth rate was enough reason to make the continent the fastest-growing e-commerce market in the world; not to talk of now that the stakes are higher. Emerging e-commerce has brought about restyling to the traditional method of shopping, as buying and selling goods and services can now be done online anywhere and anytime. Goods are being delivered with either in-house or partner courier services providers, but virtual products such as eBooks, videos, audios, and templates are being delivered electronically – at affordable and competitive prices compares to offline deals.
In a 2014 report by Business Day, it was revealed that the current market opportunity for e-commerce in Nigeria was over USD 151 Mn annually, with a rapid growth percentage of 25 each year. But it has not also been so good because just a decade ago, an e-commerce-based model of a business plan would so quickly have been laughed off and given the heave-ho, as it would have come off as a bad investment. But times have changed, and they never stop doing so – e-commerce in Nigeria is fast becoming the next big thing. More and more Nigerians are subsuming the medium as their preferred platform for purchase and selling – 60 million Nigerians enjoy internet access (2014) and nearly 100 million as of now – thanks to the rapid growth of telecommunications, and with that figure, nothing is stopping the e-market from becoming larger. The country has a predominantly youthful population to add, along with the near 100 million connected Nigerians representing more than 40 percent of Nigeria’s 197 million people. Facts have it that way over 300,000 online orders are made every 24 hours in the country – a promising figure to say the least and an indication that e-platforms are on the rise with business, tech, and leisure.
E-commerce has also contributed to Nigeria’s economic growth and development. Firstly, the medium is creating jobs for the country’s more than 30 million unemployed youths, in line with a report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) – irrespective of the fact that the actual jobs availed from 2012 to 2014 are just over 12,000. The ICT industry contributed to a 10.44 percent part of the 2013 Nigeria GDP, as well as significant strides in other sectors. Should more and more Nigerians have access to the internet, it would bring about a massive impact on the e-market. The Minister for Communications Technology, observing the USD 12 Bn generated from e-sales about three years ago, online consumption could be worth USD 154 Bn by 2025. It was to no one ’s surprise when the same Minister recently said that e-commerce market in Nigeria has a potential worth of USD 10 Bn since the sector has already attracted about USD 200 Mn in foreign investments.
Also, critical players in Nigerian e-commerce such as Jumia, Konga, and Payporte are now selling goods on a large scale, SMEs no longer have to go overseas to purchase merchandise for business. This brings about a steady and easier-than-usual flow of market stock, as well as an increase in the country’s GDP. What is needed at this point is that the laws need to be tailored to form a robust and legal framework for a vibrant and secure e-commerce system. More proactive provisions need to be put in place for e-entrepreneurs to have a fighting chance, scale up and even internationalize. Cybercrimes need to be checked, shoppers’ privacy needs to be legally protected, and more gateways need to be flung open to accommodate as many e-commerce enterprises as possible.
According to a report by Jumia, Nigeria’s e-commerce could be worth USD 13 Bn this year. Nigeria’s most recent figure of the subscribing population is 162 million – that is 84 percent of the country’s populace. The statistics are impressive, as it drives a huge chunk of e-commerce transactions, and it seems investors are falling over each other to get a slice of the cake. Bright lights are coming up on the horizons as Konga and Yudala have merged, making analysts hopeful that Nigerian e-commerce is not going back on becoming a gamechanger. The world is no doubt swinging in the direction of tech-enabled serviceability and order-from-a-distance transactions. Nigeria will go with the wind, even if not as fast, but at its own checkered pace.