Online trade is the means to growth for African entrepreneurs

14 December 2018 2 min. read

Digitalisation is a reality for Africa as much as for the rest of the world, but questions persist surrounding the readiness and willingness of African firms to adopt the latest digital technology in their operations. Tech consultants operational on the continent argue that African businesses are ready.

Africa is set to have as many as 1 billion internet connections by as early as 2022, and the young and increasingly prosperous population on the continent is set to only increase its consumption of online content, particularly in some of the largest economies in the region such as Nigeria and Kenya.

In Nigeria, for instance, revenues from digital services and related fields are expected to surpass the $4 billion mark by 2022, while the same segment in Kenya is expected to surpass $5 billion over the same period. The question remains, however, of whether firms in the region are ready to adopt the latest digital technology.

Online trade is the means to growth for African entrepreneurs

The biggest barrier to digitalisation in developing regions such as Africa tends to be the reluctance amongst small and medium enterprises to adopt digital implements due to the high costs that are usually involved. At an e-commerce week in Nairobi, tech consultants have revealed that firms in Africa are ready.

Firms are increasingly turning to digital platforms not only to reach wider markets on the continent, but also to expand their operations across the globe. One avenue that firms are expected to use is the burgeoning world of online trading and ecommerce.

As explained by Executive Director of Afrilabs Anna Ekeledo, “The digital commerce space has not been fully exploited here in Africa hence the need for our entrepreneurs to leverage on its benefits to propel growth.” Afrilabs is a network of innovation centres that strecthes acorss the continent.

Director of Accra-based consultancy Edel Technology Consulting Ethel Cofie added, “It is possible to produce the next e-commerce giant from the African continent but there must be a friendly regulatory environment, infrastructure and massive capital injection to realize that ambition.”