Africa is faced with quite a lot of challenges that need urgent solutions. The dearth of jobs, the lack of financial inclusion, trade barriers, infrastructural deficit are some of these setbacks.
Thankfully, the continent is not resting on its oars to uncover viable and pragmatic solutions to these problems. They have resulted to technology and digital tools to solve many of these problems and the continent is already reaping the benefits.
Jumia, an Afro-centric eCommerce company with footprints across fourteen African markets, has for the past 6 years since it birthed in Nigeria contributed immensely to the growth and development of Africa’s economy.
Popularly called ‘The Alibaba of Africa’, Jumia identified and tapped the huge digital potentials of Africa to kick off an ecommerce revolution. It enabled Africans to sit in the comfort of their homes, order smartphones, washing machines and other items and it will be delivered at the customers’ doorsteps. It was a struggle at first but fast forward to today, Jumia has disrupted the way trade is done in the continent, provided thousands of jobs across Africa and has also empowered millions of vendors selling on its platform.
Additionally, it has promoted financial inclusion and the march towards making Africa a cashless economy. Presently, when you shop on Jumia, there are incentives to encourage you to prepay for your order using Jumia Pay. This automatically means there is no need for you to keep cash at home which is unsafe and plainly, too much liquidity around is injurious to the economy.
Indeed, the eCommerce company has dispelled the notion that Africa is a tough place to run a business. To show its commitment to the continent, Jumia expanded to other verticals and now have portfolio companies like Jumia Food, Jumia Travel, Jumia One, Jumia Services and Jumia Pay. These companies are taking advantage of the digital richness of the continent to satisfy customer demands. Nevertheless, Jumia can only do as much.
Interestingly, many African governments have recognised the fact that digital technology can help resolve some of the challenges on the continent. Thus, they are creating an enabling environment for the digital economy to thrive. The Rwandan government is working on a multi-billion dollar project for the production and development of technology inspired by the U.S. Silicon Valley. It calls it Kigali Innovation City (KIC) and it is expected to create over 50,000 jobs.
This is a partial reason why venture capitalists and serial investors are trooping to the continent in search of startups and digital businesses worthy of investment. The exceptional resilience of Africans in solving African problems has to be referenced. They have established businesses in fintech, agriculture, artificial intelligence, health tech, fashion, music, entertainment, edtech, insurtech, by braving the harsh economic realities of the continent.
Startups are increasingly becoming the recipient of big funding rounds of over $5 million. In total, startups raised a record $725.6 million across 458 deals, the 2018 venture investment report by WeeTracker shows.
As the digital economy takes its root in Africa and problems are being tackled by leveraging on the huge digital potentials of the continent, there is still a herculean task to bring the ‘digital orphans’ especially in rural Africa on board so that they can enjoy the digital largesse.