Insight: Mobile and E-Commerce Moving Forward

by: Angel Nonye-John on

It is increasingly common to read about the rise of e-commerce in Africa. Although e-commerce is not currently the most profitable industry for investment, the growing middle class provides strong opportunity and potential. Additionally, mobile commerce, consumer attitudes and tech developments are making e-commerce an industry that transcends class barriers.

Here are 4 insights about the future of mobile and e-commerce in Africa:

Increasing Consumer Optimism: A number of reports such as Ten Things to Know About African Consumers from BCG have noted that consumer optimism is on the rise. Consumers across the continent have a positive future outlook on their local economies and personal finances. A recent poll by NOI Poll, a Nigerian polling service, showed that Nigerians are positive and hopeful about their economic situation despite Naira devaluation and depressed crude oil prices.

Service Apps That Are Better Focused: It seems like there is a new and creative service app everyday. While they do provide solutions to concrete issues in the service industry, these businesses will have to think beyond the multiplicity of service hangups. As Brian Ascher highlights, though the Uber/Airbnb model has the ability to disrupt other service industries, consumers will not find convincing value in every tech solution. While the economic landscape in Africa is changing, most people devote their income to housing, food and education. These companies will need to focus on their consumer and test the best ways to add value.

Infrastructure: This point really doesn’t need an introduction. Lagging infrastructure will continue to be an issue for the mobile and e-commerce industry, especially delivery service platforms. However, the story isn’t all doom and gloom. OkHi is a Kenyan company tackling the sparsity of physical addresses. We wish them luck and hope to hear about other companies taking a unique approach to develop infrastructure.

First, there was the mobile device: Unlike their western counterparts, the majority of African consumers were introduced and acquainted with mobile devices before personal computers. This pattern will be an advantage for mobile commerce companies because building consumer trust will be less of a battle. Even so, internet privacy and security will need to be addressed moving forward.

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