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The Size of Africa’s Ecommerce Market by E-platforms

One session which attracted a lot of interest during the UNCTAD event was a report for the International Trade Centre (ITC) from the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands). The study looked at B2C ‘marketplaces’ (e-platforms) in Africa. It estimated that B2C online sales in Africa stood at $15.6bn in 2018, and would grow to $20.8bn in 2019; $27.6 in 2020 and 34.4 in 2021. The study found that there are 631 e-marketplaces (the top 5 countries being SA with 105; Morocco with 102; Tunisia with 92; Egypt with 84 and Algeria with 77) and 1,902 websites offering B2C ecommerce. Web-traffic in 2019 totalled 2.165bn visitors and was dominated by SA, followed by Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Kenya, Tunisia, Ghana. Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal. The study identified 60% of the marketplaces as classified and 74% as not specialised. A surprising 72% were non-transactional. However, only 1% of the total number of marketplaces generated 60% of total traffic. The biggest platforms were Jumia (24%); Ouekuiss and Gumtree with 7% each and Takealot, OLX and Souq with 6% each.

The conclusions of the study are that: – “Africa is home to many marketplaces that SMEs can use for trading. But, a handful of marketplaces (and countries) dominate the African marketplace landscape. And possibilities to directly sell internationally via African marketplaces are relatively limited. Further, many marketplaces in Africa struggle to gain momentum. For African marketplaces to thrive a strong economy and a good ecommerce infrastructure are needed”. The study will be published in full later this year by ITC.

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Alastair Tempest

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