E-commerce holds huge promise for enhancing free trade in Africa

Africa has huge e-commerce potential. In fact, according to UNCTAD, the United Nations body that oversees trade for development, e-commerce can significantly boost free trade in Africa and therefore help realize the objectives of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Last December, the UN body organized its first-ever regional edition, Africa eCommerce Week, hosted by Kenya. At the event, it also released its report which revealed that more than 21 million Africans shop online. Last week, global e-commerce site Picodi also released its report on the state of e-commerce in South Africa. The report had some interesting statistics. It showed that South Africans still prefer using desktops over smartphones when doing online shopping despite mobile commerce booming globally.

Still, on e-commerce, Jumia, the leading pan-African e-commerce platform, announced that Mastercard has agreed, subject to certain conditions, to become an investor and form a strategic partnership to grow e-commerce operations.

This week Jack Ma’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) officially opened applications for African entrepreneurs from all countries, sectors and age groups. This came a few weeks after it had also named NINE from Nigeria, RiseUp from Egypt, and 22 On Sloane from South Africa as the official Western, Northern, and Southern Africa regional partners, respectively. ANPI was launched by Alibaba Group founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma through his Jack Ma Foundation to support entrepreneurs working to address Africa’s most important challenges.

This week, South Africa’s IT services business DeARX Services and global open source integration vendor WSO2 entered into an agreement in which DeARX to become a WSO2 Value-Added Reseller (VAR) for Southern Africa. South Africa Electoral Commission launched an innovative online reporting platform to help combat the scourge of disinformation intended to unfairly influence its upcoming elections. Yodiwo South Africa, an end-to-end Internet of Things (IoT), mobile solutions and IoT-as-a-service provider, and Africa representative of Yodiwo AB, creator of the state-of-the-art Yodigram solution for in-store analytics, also formed a strategic partnership with Cold Tech Marketing.

With 5G now almost becoming a reality, Parallel Wireless announced the introduction of 5G RuralFirst initiative to connect rural areas in Africa. The initiative explores new network deployment strategies for rural areas and promises to provide new business models for rural communities. This is not the first time we’re seeing different companies trying to connect rural areas of Africa. In March 2019, VAST Network selected Benu Networks platform to deliver affordable connectivity across Africa.

Lots of interesting news also came from East Africa this week. In Uganda, the governmet in partnership with the GSMA, and other stakeholders have held a high-level round table on mobile-enabled digital transformation in Uganda. In Kenya, the Ministry of Education, Interswitch and UNESCO launched a National Science Competition targeting secondary students with a special interest in STEM.

In an effort to create awareness around its Azure offering as well as drive cloud migration, Microsoft this week hosted an event in Nairobi, Kenya. The event also aimed to shape the perception and position Microsoft as a thought leader for global best practices in data migration. Just recently, South Africa’s Idu-Concept, has expanded its cloud offering through a partnership with Microsoft Azure.

Other highlights of the week include AfricaOnline, Ghanaian ISP and a Gondwana International Networks subsidiary appointing industry stalwart, Foster Plender as its Managing Director, HP collaborating with officials in Uganda and Mozambique to target fraudulent manufacturers and South Africa’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) software and solutions company Cortex Logic announcing a series of appointments as it seeks to grow its business and reach.

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