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E-commerce becomes a force in African retail market

Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji | Dec. 4, 2014
E-commerce is poised to dominate African retail markets over the next five years, says the Africa CEO of Kaymu.com, one of the more successful online commerce sites in the region. While market watchers may not be quite as optimistic in their forecasts, no one disputes that e-commerce on the continent is starting to take root.

Sub-Sahara Africa is being targeted as the next big thing by retailers because of its population of close to a billion people, increasing proliferation of mobile phones and its urbanization rate, the fastest in the world, according to AT Kearny's 2014 African retail development index.

Schulze believes that Kaymu.com, which is backed by Africa Internet Group (AIG), owned by Rocket Internet, MTN and Millicom, will continue its expansion drive, and expects to announce a 17th African operation before the end of the year.

Schulze, who is 29 years old, says his career so far has hinged on his early entry into the continent, after he finished his graduate degree in 2008. "I've decided that Africa by far is the most interesting, impactful and innovative place to focus on and been blessed enough to have had encouraging mentors and people willing to give me a shot from an early tenure," he said.

Startups competing with Kaymu, though, may have a formidable challenge, since the online retailer benefits from the deep pockets of AIG. Last week, Jumia.com, an online retailer that is also a part of AIG, announced a new round of investments amounting to US$150 million.

Berlin-based Rocket Internet was the first investor in AIG "Rocket Internet's mandate is to found internet companies within primarily underserved or untapped markets," said Nils Seger, a spokesman for AIG. "Rocket and Africa Internet Group (AIG) strongly believe in the growth and dynamic future of Africa and remain deeply invested to growing alongside the continent."

 

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