Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce, is a type of industry where buying and selling of product or service is conducted over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-commerce).

In Trade or business, the ultimate result is being able to sell your service or good with the consumer being satisfied with the sold product or service. Through history, this has been the case. As a result people have always found ways to make sure that this so simplified while every party( seller,consumer) is satisfied. Back in the day we begun with batter trade, a good for a good or a service for a service. This method faced challenges [read]. Years later, Money then became the solution to the problems of batter trade. Different forms of money were used until today now the de-facto standard are paper notes and coins. However since we are in the era when having timely and relevant information is key for not only business then using handled notes and coins is old school. This is because people are remotely placed, yet they can communicate to each other, sell services and products. Hence virtual money is necessary. Virtual Money I mean money held in credit cards, visa cards and mobile money. Virtual Money has made users to sell all kinds of services and products including entertainment and fun. Virtual money is becoming the new de-facto standard for business. However Africa and emerging markets are still not seeing that due to a chain of challenges that include IT infrastructure development, Literacy,Government support and corruption. Most Importantly many of the existing such as paypal and new infrastructure only allows an average of over 90% of these nations to buy only. For those that can sell, its very difficult for them to do so using virtual Money in the form of Paypal, Google wallet to mention but a few. In fact I can say Africa is not doing business at all and those companies are cheating on Africa. Because of this, eCommerce faces a big challenge. Kenya has realized how important ICT is and it is doing something about it. They are strongly behind virtual money inform of Mobile Money aka Mpesa. Other countries such as mine (uganda) is slowly adopting mpesa.

People have suggested that mpesa is the savior to africas financial problems. Well this is true but it only works in Africa. Its like saying Africa for Africa. To some extent, I support this.Africa has a generation that can create content,sell services and goods to the outside world. Limiting the potential to only mpesa is not a good ecomerce solution. Take for example mobile app developer companies in Africa, companies founded to sell games , mobile entertainment and any other mobile apps to the rest of world can not sell these apps or do anything close to in app purchases using some of the available virtual Money options like Google merchant, Paypal, etc.

In Africa peoples views are divided between targeting the local market and markets abroad. The major problems with creating apps for local market is that;

  • Majority of the population is still uneducated
  • Smart phone mobile penetration is so low
  • For other goods, delivery is a major problem due to poor distribution channels in terms of transport

The major problems with targeting the market abroad is that;

  • Most of the current electronic payments available are just a reap off since Africans can only purchase and not sell

  • Competition from established companies

  • Need to understand the market abroad

It is more profitable to create applications that target a broader market. The solution to these problems might be combined into one thing. A well established ecomerce network starting with electronic payment is the first and most important thing I can dwell. A payment option that will enable Africa to globally sell electronically to the rest of the world using the existing payment options infrastructures will be a gift to the continent.

 It should be noted that SWIFT transfers have somehow solved this problems but its not efficient . A few companies such as Microsoft and Nokia use this but if we are to look at other kinds of businesses such as selling art pieces, books,etc that can be transacted then there is a lot to be desired. We need to see African companies that can sell web themes, web plug-ins, widgets etc. Some of these things are not being done because there is simply no business sense in them.

One thing I can say is that the continent has kind of been “Digital Colonised” as a friend of mine says so. “Digitally Colonised” in the sense that big companies abroad come and make noise that we use their tech,create for them stuff so as to make market for their own interest yet on our side we can not sell anything or do any meaningful business using their tech.

In summary, let us note that Tech outside is normally built for the interest of the local population much as it scales to the outside countries. As a result, Africa should pick a leaf from that and focus on the same. Companies should be creating local content for their population . However the population must first be educated in order to realize the bigger market,trust should be given by the government to its local skilled labor force. And most importantly for the elite, the delivery and payment options of these created services and goods must be addressed.

Alot of people have suggested that mpesa is the savior to africas financial problems. Well this is true but it only works in Africa. Its like saying Africa for Africa. To some extent, I support this but I dont buy it because Africa has a generation that can create content,sell services and goods to the outside world. Limiting the potential to only mpesa is not a scalable ecomerce solution. Take for example mobile app developer companies in Africa, companies founded to sell games , mobile entertainment and any other mobile apps to the rest of world can not sell these apps or do anything close to in app purchases using some of the available virtual Money options like Google merchant, Paypal, etc.

In Africa peoples views are divided between targeting the local market and markets abroad. The major problems with creating apps for local market is that;

  • Majority of the population is still uneducated
  • Smart phone mobile penetration is so low
  • For other goods, delivery is a major problem due to poor distribution channels and most importantly in terms of transport,couriers

The major problems with targeting the market abroad is that;

  • Most of the current electronic payments available are just a reap off since Africans can only purchase and not sell

  • Competition from established companies

  • Need to understand the market abroad

However it is more profitable to create applications that target a broader market. The solution to these problems might be combined into one thing. A well established eCommerce network starting with electronic payment is the first and most important thing I can dwell. A payment option that will enable Africa to globally sell electronically to the rest of the world using the existing payment options infrastructures will be a gift to the continent.

It should be noted that SWIFT transfers have somehow solved this problems but its not efficient . A few companies such as Microsoft and Nokia use this but if we are to look at other kinds of businesses that can be transacted, then there are far a lot to be desired. We need to see African companies that can sell web themes, web plug-ins, widgets etc. Some of these things are not being done because there is simply no business sense in them.

One thing I can say is that the continent has kind of been “Digitally Colonised” as my friend says so. “Digitally Colonised” in the sense that big companies abroad come and make noise that we use their tech,create for them stuff so as to make market for their own interest yet on our side we can not sell anything or do any meaningful business.

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