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An Ecommerce Strategy for Africa

The African Union held a 2 day conference last week on a draft strategy for ecommerce prepared by a consultant from India. The 198 page paper is extremely detailed and contains a lot of useful proposals, including suggestions on how to deal with taxation and customs dues; policies on fintechs’ and recognition on the pressing need for more investments. The discussions over the 2 days concentrated on the relations between the AU member states and the African Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); the need for digital skills (EFA’s proposal for a formal group of universities offering tertiary courses in ecommerce was adopted), and the lack of data on ecommerce turnover and employment within Africa. Most of the attendees were government officials.

A plan to get the Regional Economic Communities to input into the Strategy failed as the RECs didn’t show.  An issue which we found surprising and asked to be rectified in the draft Strategy was that its definition of ecommerce excluded selling online via the social media. Which brings us to livestreaming – which this Newsletter tipped as a trend to watch in 2021.

According to Extra Crunch, this year, livestream viewers in China are projected to spend more than $60 billion on digital shopping experiences that lets them interact with influencers in real time. Social media stars use Taobao, TikTok and other platforms to livestream promotions of everything from cosmetics to food and to take questions from the audience. On Taobao’s Single’s Day Global Shopping Festival in 2020, livestreams racked up $6 billion in sales, twice as much revenue as the year prior. Western startups are getting in on the action, with companies like Whatnot and PopShop.Live  and other companies raising financing to resource their infrastructure.


Alastair Tempest

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