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What do you consider the major hindrance of e-commerce in Africa?

By Isaac Maloba

It is nearly over ten years since the world discovered the opportunity and convenience of e-commerce across countries and continents. People have virtually bought and sold anything from anywhere easier, cheaper and faster over the years. Like any marketplace, the forces of demand and supply have had their toll on internet business. As such some countries or continents have found themselves with a bigger e-business response than others. There are countless companies and individuals from Africa who daily do business online as either buyers or suppliers. However, most business companies from Africa still find it difficult to attract adequate online business compared to their counterparts elsewhere. Or put it another way, many individuals and companies elsewhere still find it challenging to do online business with African companies. Two key reasons have been put forward to explain this;

  1. The general lack of awareness; either most business people or companies in Africa don’t have enough information about the business opportunities elsewhere to utilize; or individuals and companies from abroad don’t have enough information about business opportunities in Africa.
  2. The lack of rapport and general trust; the general fear that either won’t get a fair deal. There are countless cases of online business ‘foul play’ that has left a gap of trust and mutual reliability.

These two reasons are certainly just a tip of the ice-burg that seek to discover and explain why there is a slow success of African companies’ penetration of the bigger global online markets. What is clear though is that the countless business opportunities in Africa will benefit both. For those outside Africa, think about the many virgin business areas that would generate instant interest from the huge populations in Africa, a lot of low-priced raw materials for internationally demanded products, cheap labor and immense hunger for development. The business companies in Africa are sure to benefit from business partnerships, outsourcing, export opportunities, market expansion, etc. Identifying and understanding the key hindrances to these potential ecommerce opportunities is a good starting point of demystifying key obstacles and pave way for strong e-commerce benefits and partnerships with Africa. Have your say!

Isaac Maloba is a Human Resource consultant and Chief Administrator at Potential Management Centre ( POTMAC)

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