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Companies - Insight & Analysis - Startup - April 15, 2021

E-commerce Dominance and Social Commerce Growth in Africa

Many are familiar with the concept of E-commerce but Social Commerce in Africa is relatively a new term gaining traction rapidly. Before we go into the crux of the article, we’d take a quick look at the difference between the two.

While E-commerce is a shopping experience via a website or dedicated branded app, Social commerce is selling products directly on social media platforms, making the experience much more interactive for customers. 

About 11 years ago, E-commerce was Africa’s tech ecosystem’s poster child. It was the promising venture experts envisaged would define the space, with a mission to add the buying behaviour of millions of Africa’s consumers from brick and mortar space to online. But due to a number of unique problems, the growth from then till now has been at a snail speed if compared with counterparts in the global E-commerce industry.

On one hand, Africa’s E-commerce landscape is booming but could have reached its full potential if last mile delivery problems, low internet penetration, poor addressing system, low unbanked population among others, were not in its way. 

However, with the rapid Internet penetration through smartphones over the past years and the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns narrowed shopping options down to only online. E-commerce is increasingly disrupting the retail industry in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya dominating the space.


The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported that the number of online shoppers in Africa surged annually by 18% since 2014. 

According to the International Telecommunication Union statistics, the share of population segments using the Internet increased from 2.1% in 2005 to 24.4% in 2018. Also, Africa’s payments services architecture is evolving in response to changing customer expectations and technology, offering a range of disruptive payment models enabling more people, even without a bank account, to take part in online shopping…

EDITOR’S NOTE: Click here to read the full interview. It’s on page 36 of our latest edition, ’20 Trending & Most Profitable Business Ideas in 2021′.

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