uAfrica.com, a leading South African eCommerce technology company, today announced the launch of the first phase of its expansion plan into the rest of Africa. The first phase targets Nigeria with a trial Proof of Concept (POC) partnership with MTN Business customers who will be able to develop their own online shops through uAfrica.com. Phase two will see uAfrica.com launch their services in Kenya and later on in Uganda with key business partners established in both these regions.
“uAfrica.com’s goal is to enable 1000 online stores outside of South Africa in the next 12 months,” said Andy Higgins, the Managing Director of uAfrica.com. “We have also identified Nigeria as one of our biggest markets in Africa and predict that in time they will outgrow South Africa and become our biggest market in Africa, so we’re thrilled to have launched our pilot project to such an enthusiastic response with our Nigerian partners.” Higgins concluded.
Two large online retailers, Konga.com and Jumia.com.ng, have lead the charge in the Nigerian online retail space by offering their consumers the convenience of being able to purchase a range of goods online that they also deliver. uAfrica.com however, has targeted SMEs specifically to support local entrepreneurial merchant start-ups within the market. Initially uAfrica.com will offer basic online storefront services followed by additional services around payments, logistics and marketing support and will later launch a multi-channelled selling solution to these customers. An important element of uAfrica.com’s basic product offering is the ability to trade via their mobile devices as research shows that many potential, first-time eCommerce customers will use their devices to first engage in the online retail environments.
Interesting challenges uAfrica.com will be facing when entering these markets but challenges which will make them market leaders in these territories in the longer term include:
- Payments, although outside of South Africa Cash On Delivery (COD) is the most widely used form of payment and
- Logistics, as the maize of informal roads and walkways create undefined addresses to households with some consumers even resorting to pinning their delivery location on a Google map.
Predictions about why industry experts foresee Nigeria’s eCommerce industry to lead the African online retail environment can be partly attributed to the huge growth forecast for Nigeria with their GDP being the largest in Africa, the fact that millions of dollars have been invested by global companies into Nigerian eCommerce retailers Konga.com and Jumia.com.ng, and the fact that Lagos has only two physical shopping malls servicing between 20 to 25 million people – numbers that will be tricky if not impossible to maintain long term and which is why uAfrica.com is keen to service the market. uAfrica.com is resolute to assist local entrepreneurs and SMEs to claim their piece of this pie.