Even before the onset of COVID-19, interest in online shopping was on the rise in Africa, albeit from quite a low base. The rapidly rising penetration rate of mobile phones, particularly smartphones, over recent years, is playing a key role in this.
The total traffic for online marketplaces in Africa amounted to 2.2 billion visits in 2019, with ten countries (most notably Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya) accounting for the bulk of this, according to Switzerland-based development agency International Trade Centre (ITC).
A growing number of players are fighting for a piece of this rapidly expanding market. The ITC identified 631 online marketplaces managing a total of 1,900 websites in Africa during 2019. However, many of these online marketplaces are ‘classifieds,’ where goods are advertised online, but paid for upon delivery.
Jumia is undoubtedly the largest and most high-profile online marketplace in Africa, but the rapidly swelling ranks of its challengers range from Copia and Kilimall in Kenya to Konga in Nigeria, in addition to a plethora of small players leveraging social media, particularly Whatsapp, to make online sales.
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