[Africa Tech Review] Duncan Mochama: Africans are increasingly using eCommerce in response to COVID-19 restrictions
The International Trade Centre (ICT) recently released a report that analyzes opportunities for integrating online marketplaces in Africa with African economies. The report found an increase in Africa’s use of eCommerce in response to COVID-19 restrictions and emphasized the “vast untapped potential” of online marketplaces in Africa.
Overall, Africa has 631 online marketplaces, which recorded 2.2 billion visits in 2019. Ten countries are responsible for 94% of all online business in Africa. South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, and Kenya together account for 78% of total marketplace traffic.
In Rwanda, an e-commerce platform was this week set up to bring Rwandan products to the UAE, the Gulf Region and the global markets. As of the launch on Wednesday 3 March 2021, over 15 Rwandan companies and many more in UAE are registered on the platform. In Nigeria, Online payment processing platform SeerBit announced it is partnering with Wix, a global SaaS platform to create, manage and grow an online presence, to empower and scale eCommerce businesses in Africa.
As the demand for data centers continues to grow in Africa, Africa Data Centres, Africa’s largest network of interconnected, carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre facilities, confirmed a significant investment into the construction of a new data centre facility in Lagos, Nigeria. This came just a few days after the company had its Tier III certification renewed by the Uptime Institute for its Nairobi-based data centre. Last year, it also began construction of a new state-of-the-art data centre facility in Midrand, Johannesburg.
On matters telcos, Safaricom this week selected Ericsson to supply microwave solutions based on the E-band platform to achieve multi Gbps backhaul capacity for mobile broadband nationwide coverage in Kenya. Telkom Kenya also announced that two of its senior colleagues are leaving the company. The two are Steve Okeyo, Managing Director - Consumer Service Delivery Unit and Kris Senanu, Managing Director - Digital Service Delivery Unit. Vodacom Group and Vodafone Foundation donated €4.2 million (R74 million) to support the vaccine roll-out to vulnerable and hard to reach communities across its markets in Africa. In Guinea, the telecommunication and posts regulatory authority (ARPT) and tech company Global Voice Group (GVG) announced the establishment of a new partnership between the two organizations. The partnership provides for the deployment of mobile and digital ecosystem regulation platform in Guinea. The Chief Executive Officer for Mobile Money Limited, Eli Hini also this week ruled out the use of proxies in withdrawing cash from any MTN Mobile Money Account in the country.
As the continent continues to fully go digital when it comes to payments, Uber announced a new initiative with Mastercard focusing on digital payments and advancing financial inclusions which will be facilitated by Mastercard across the Middle East and Africa (MEA). Huawei Mobile Kenya also announced that local banking apps are now available on App Gallery. Huawei AppGallery is the official Huawei app store that you can use to download hundreds of Android apps. Huawei built this new ecosystem after the American ban in 2019 that made them lose access to Google Apps, including the Play Store.
African startups were also in the news this week. Fintech startup Dash App raised $500K+ pre-seed financing to expand its operations to Kenya and Ghana. Pan African specialist investment financial institution Verdant Capital also raised $9.9 million Series A equity capital for Tugende, a technology-enabled MSME lender in East Africa.
This week, inq., the pan-African multi-cloud digital service provider, appointed Dr. Christian Wirtz as its new Group CEO to take over from founding Group CEO Geoff Hardwick, who stepped down from the role. Network International, an enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa (MEA), also appointed Egyptian national Hany Fekry as the Regional President for Northern and sub-Saharan Africa.