In a recent interview with africankeneokafortechcrunch, the co-CEO of Jumia, Sacha Poignonnec, and Nigerian entrepreneur and founder of Eko Atlantic, Kene Okafur, discussed the opportunities and challenges of e-commerce in Africa. Jumia, which is often referred to as the “Amazon of Africa,” is an online marketplace that operates in over a dozen African countries, while Eko Atlantic is a massive development project in Lagos, Nigeria that aims to create a modern, sustainable city on reclaimed land. The two CEOs offered valuable insights into the potential for e-commerce to transform African economies and the challenges of building a successful e-commerce platform in the region.
One of the key challenges of e-commerce in Africa, according to Poignonnec, is the lack of infrastructure and connectivity in many parts of the continent. He noted that while Jumia has been successful in some urban areas, there are still many rural areas where access to the internet and reliable delivery services is limited. Poignonnec believes that one way to address this problem is to partner with governments and other organizations to invest in infrastructure and expand access to the internet and mobile technology. By working together to build stronger networks and delivery systems, e-commerce platforms like Jumia can reach more customers and create new opportunities for economic growth and development.
Okafur echoed this sentiment, noting that infrastructure and connectivity are also key drivers of innovation in Africa. He emphasized the importance of renewable energy technologies and other sustainable solutions that can help African countries develop the necessary infrastructure to support a thriving e-commerce sector. He also highlighted the role of education and training in building a skilled workforce that can drive innovation and entrepreneurship.
Another challenge facing e-commerce in Africa is the lack of trust and familiarity with online shopping among many consumers. Poignonnec noted that many African consumers are more comfortable with traditional brick-and-mortar retail, and may be hesitant to trust online marketplaces with their personal and financial information. To address this problem, Jumia has invested heavily in building trust and creating a positive user experience for its customers. This includes offering a range of payment options and working closely with merchants to ensure that products are of high quality and delivered on time.
Despite these challenges, both Poignonnec and Okafur remain optimistic about the potential for e-commerce to transform African economies. They noted that the growth of mobile technology and the increasing number of Africans with access to the internet offer a tremendous opportunity for e-commerce platforms to reach new customers and create new jobs and opportunities. They also emphasized the importance of partnerships and collaboration, both within the private sector and with governments and other organizations, to address the challenges facing e-commerce in Africa and build a more sustainable and inclusive economy.
In addition to his work with Eko Atlantic, Okafur is also a member of several prominent organizations and initiatives focused on promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa. He is a member of the Africa Business Council, a pan-African business organization that seeks to promote economic growth and development on the continent. He is also a founding member of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports African entrepreneurs and provides funding and mentorship to promising startups.
Poignonnec, meanwhile, has led Jumia through a period of rapid growth and expansion, with the company now operating in over a dozen African countries and employing thousands of people across the continent. He emphasized the importance of building a strong team and culture within the company, and of staying focused on the needs of customers and merchants.
Overall, the interview with Poignonnec and Okafur offered valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of e-commerce in Africa. By investing in infrastructure, connectivity, and education, and by working together to build trust and create positive user experiences, e-commerce platforms like Jumia