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Online retailers pushing for e-commerce growth in West Africa

Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji | Nov. 4, 2014
As Internet usage surges, an increasing number of online retailers in West Africa are springing up, giving mobile phone users a variety of options to buy and sell new and used items.

Continued growth of e-commerce depends, however, on a variety of factors including government tax policies and cross-border customs regulations, availability of adequate and secure payment solutions, shipping and handling standards and Internet access costs, according to the "Online Shopping in Emerging Markets" report issued by Jana, a mobile platform technology provider.

E-commerce in West Africa is still only at about 10 percent of its potential,'s Essien said. "The people who set themselves up now and position themselves well are poised to capture all the growth as it happens over the next 5 years," he said via email.

While many e-commerce sites are riding on a wave of enthusiasm for the convenience of online shopping, over time, quality and the ability to adapt to a changing market matters, cautioned Somé-Mensah.

"For e-commerce websites to succeed in West Africa," she said, "they will have to closely monitor the market and proactively adapt to its dynamics. This may mean offering more categories and commodities in which users can buy and sell. Also, online retailers website will have to maintain the highest standards of service delivery so they build their brand image and secure customers' loyalty."

There is no certainty the early entrants will last, Essien noted.

"Some will die," says Essien. "Some will become massive. The market is growing and this puts pressure on the companies to adapt and capture part of that growth. Not all will do it successfully."


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