African infrastructure must improve for e-commerce to develop

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E-commerce can succeed in spite of the current state of African infrastructure, but improvements are necessary in logistics, payments and regulatory environments for it to be truly successful.

This is according to Francis Dufay, managing director of Jumia Ivory Coast, who was speaking at the Africa Telecom People 2015 event in Abidjan last week on the subject “What Infrastructures for e-commerce in Africa?”.

He said he was confident about the ability of existing infrastructure to foster the sector’s growth, provided there is continuous improvement. Ivory Coast, he said, has the basics of the different types of infrastructure needed for e-commerce, which primarily relies on internet, logistics, payments and the legal framework.

Although Dufay said Jumia has managed to transcend the limitations inherent to each type of infrastructure, several points would benefit from “qualitative evolutions”. There is a need for better roads and a more comprehensive addressing system, while cashless payment methods such as mobile money should be further encouraged.

“The regulatory and organisational framework could benefit from more education for stakeholders for a better understanding of contractual implications,” he said.

“And internet, whose penetration is estimated at eight million people in Ivory Coast, remains curtailed.”

Dufay is adamant, however, that e-commerce can exist in Ivory Coast, and would have a beneficial impact on the country and its citizens.

“The government’s efforts as well as those of private actors such as MTN to extend the reach of the internet or to regulate the sector and foster the adoption of electronic payment methods are valuable notes of hope,” he said.

“E-commerce has a bright future in Ivory Coast. Its development will support employment and increase the purchasing power of the population, who will access more varied offers at more competitive prices.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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