E-commerce explosion offers new opportunities for Kenyan entrepreneurs

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Kenya’s e-commerce market is primed for significant growth over the next five years as mobile internet continues to spread, a proposed national addressing system comes into existence, and people become more comfortable with digital transactions.

This is according to Dr Rutendo Hwindingwi, divisional director for Sage East and West Africa, who says Kenya’s enthusiastic adoption of person-to-person mobile payments creates a solid base for the growth of mobile and electronic commerce.

“We’re seeing more and more Kenyans go online, thanks to cheaper smartphones and mobile data. Combine that with Kenyans’ comfort with electronic transactions after years of using mobile data, and we can expect to see digital shopping and commerce really start to take off,” he said.

Most digital transactions in Kenya will take place via smartphones and mobile broadband because of low fixed-line and PC penetration. The mobile experience has improved dramatically in recent years, making it simple and enjoyable to shop from a smartphone.  And with mobile money providers like M-PESA now adding APIs for smartphones to their products, they are opening up a range of new m-commerce applications and services.

“This is particularly significant given the low penetration of credit and debit cards in Kenya – a factor that has inhibited e-commerce. Kenyans excluded from the formal banking system have lacked safe, easy and convenient ways to pay and be paid. We hope to see mobile wallet solutions come to market that make it easy for customers to make digital payments,” Hwindingwi said.

Another significant factor is the Communications Authority of Kenya’s commitment to creating a robust national address system, with the lack of such a system having thus far made it difficult for couriers to deliver goods bought online to their customers’ hands.

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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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