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Logistics challenges facing eCommerce in Africa Article by Josephine Wawira

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According to Euromonitor, the world’s fastest-growing economies by 2030 will be in Africa. This consequently makes the continent the next big e-commerce market. And as this positive narrative continues to place Africa as a top investment destination, the need for advanced logistics systems has become inevitable. The growth of e-commerce will significantly depend on the quality and efficiency of logistics networks; from intra and cross trade to financial transactions in payment of goods and services.

When writing the African e-commerce story, I often leap at the chance to explore only the enviable milestones the continent has made. Nevertheless, there still exist formidable challenges especially in logistics, a vital constituent of the industry. The African Development Bank, in its 2019 African Economic Outlook, notes that“trade costs due to poorly functioning logistics markets may be a greater barrier to trade than tariffs and nontariff barriers”. This side of the story must also be told; if we are to find sustainable solutions to what could be the gateway to growing Africa’s e-commerce by leaps and bounds.

Unsatisfactory National Address Systems and Transport Infrastructure

One of the biggest logistics’ hurdles holding back the industry is the lack of proper national address systems in most African countries. This, coupled by poor road networks, make it even harder to conveniently deliver products to customers. Consequently, companies have had to rely on fairly descriptive addresses and landmarks provided by the customers during the initial stages of the online purchase process. The delivery persons are also required to keep in constant contact with clients when delivering products, to receive further directions while en-route.

While generally Africa’s infrastructure lags behind that of its counterparts including America and Europe, it is worthy of note that each country has its own value proposition. In 2018, the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index placed South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, and Côte d’Ivoire as the top 4 best-performing countries in Africa, while Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea and Zimbabwe were at the bottom 4.

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In most African countries, the result of the poor road infrastructure is heavy traffic jams that lead to delayed deliveries, cancelled orders for the on-demand servicesand subsequently loss of revenue. Alternative modes of transport have therefore come into play in some markets like Kenya and Nigeria, with the use of easy to navigate motorcycles, popularly known as Bodabodas. With about 1.2 million motorcycles in the passenger transport business, Kenyan ecommerce companies have strived to tap into this market by using Bodabodas to swiftly deliver products, especially within busy cities.

There are huge opportunities for logistics to grow e-commerce, but few established players exist in the market,” notes Apoorva Kumar, Jumia’s SVP of Logistics. Present in 14 African countries, Jumia is one of the ecommerce players building logistics and fulfilment infrastructures to ease delivery of products to consumers using both vehicles and bodabodas.

ecommerce

Jumia’s Bodaboda Rider

                                                                                    

Providentially, technology has been a boon to the logistics industry. In Nigeria and Kenya, Jumia is running a well-established system using Machine Learning, relying on GPS enabled delivery apps. The coordinates collected in the first delivery are then registered and used in making a logistics network for future conveyance.

In Rwanda, companies like Zipline are leading the way in commercial drone deliveries. While initially focused on delivering blood to remote health centres that are otherwise difficult to reach fast due to Rwanda’s hilly terrain; it is expected that Zipline’s drones will in future be used in other sectors including e-commerce. Back in Kenya, Astral Aerial Solutions is using drones for among other services, last mile deliveries. The company aims to, in its words, “open up Kenya’s hard to reach regions to new and exciting business opportunities”.

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The possibilities for a better future in logistics, in my view, are endless! And as Apoorva reiterates, companies cannot solely build a successful logistics system. “It requires integrating various systems and partners to create a big enough network to serve the growing needs of the e-commerce consumers,” he says, calling for both private and public partnerships to this endeavour.

What Then, Does the Future Hold?

Data by logistics consulting firm Knight Frank shows that the cost of transportation represents 50% to 75% of the retail price of the goods. This alone underpins the demand for long-term strategies to the logistics challenges in Africa.

From delayed deliveries between local destinations to sluggish growth of cross-border trade, the effects are being felt across the board. Modern online retailing is headed towards pre-orders, requiring mature infrastructure for both small and medium businesses. This will help meet the packaging, storage, distribution, freight and last-mile-delivery requirements. Though challenging, Africa is a land full of commercial opportunities; causing a scramble for a piece of the pie among international investors.

Therefore, for e-commerce companies in Africa to achieve sustainable bottom-line growth, there needs to occur more tech-empowered handshakes between multiple service providers across markets. Governments have the responsibility to create one-window-policies that empower digital payment solutions as well as logistics infrastructure including road networks, air cargo handling systems and warehouses among others. Similarly, e-commerce and logistics powerhouses like Jumia should commit to empowering more upcoming entrepreneurs. They must also use their leading positions to continue paving the way for economic integration in Africa.

Josephine Wawira is a Consultant in Communications and Public Relations, and a writer with a focus on African Development. She has written opinion articles covering among other topics e-commerce, travel, hospitality and tourism and is currently the Group PR & Communications Assistant Manager at Jumia Group.

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How to Protect Your Debit Card From Fraud

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Debit card fraud is increasing on a daily basis because it is one of the easiest ways to get your hands on cash and at the same pay for online transactions.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Automated Teller Machine from selected banks across the country recorded transactions valued at N39.15 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2018.

It said that the N39.15 trillion was derived from 616,528,697 transactions recorded as data on “Electronic Payment Channels in the Nigeria Banking Sector” during the period.

Regardless of this seamlessness and due to increased dependence on debit cards, you have to be circumspect as there are online and offline thieves desperately wanting to steal your information.

They will have unauthorised access to your account if you are careless and you will lose your hard-earned money.

With this understanding, here are ways to protect your debit card from fraud.

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Be careful when you use your debit card online

Many pay for their online transactions with their debit cards. However, before you punch in the numbers on your card and make a payment, ensure that the website is safe and secure. If you suspect anything, simply do not use your card. If what you are buying is important, contact the customer service team of the platform you are buying from.

Use ATM at a bank’s premises

Today, you will find ATMs at different locations that are not at the bank’s premises. For whatever reason, you should not use such an ATM. It is advisable to visit the one at the bank. In case of anything, you can easily walk into the banking hall to resolve any issues or lay a complaint.

Protect Your PIN

The way you handle your Personal Identity Number (PIN) can go a long way in determining the degree of your account security. Whenever you perform a transaction, guard your debit card PIN jealously as exposure can be fatal. Be warned.

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Check your card activities regularly

No matter how thorough and protective you are with your debit card and your PIN, you should always check your account activities. There is a tendency for you not to check because nothing has happened to your card. Be proactive and always check your account activities.

Report suspicious activities to your bank

If you notice any suspicious activities with your account or card, do not hesitate to report to your bank as soon as possible. You can reach your bank by calling them, sending them a direct message on social media and chatting them live on their website.

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Jumia to host Andre Iguodala – NBA star, Jumia board member, investor in Facebook, Tesla and Twitter

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Jumia is bringing a member of its Board who is also an American BasketBall Player and Silicon Valley Investor – Andre Iguodala to Nigeria for an interactive session with techpreneurs on September 11th, 2019. The event will be hosted by Techpoint.

 

The session is themed: “Moving from Zero to Growth.” The aim is to address issues around funding and investment for local startups.

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Leading the session is Andre Iguodala, Jumia board member, NBA star, Silicon Valley investor with investment in Facebook, Twitter and Tesla.

 

Andre will be sharing experience on how he has built his personal portfolio as an investor and further give insights on how local founders can position their business for growth.

 

Who can attend?

 

The interactive session with Andre Iguodala is particularly open to founders, local investors, hub owners and accelerators.

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Although the event is free to attend, Jumia and Techpoint would however be largely involved in selecting those who can attend.

 

Venue of the event will be communicated to shortlisted applicants.

 

Applicants should follow this link to register

 

Time: 12 noon

 

Date: September 11, 2019

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Jumia Women Rally Support For New Mothers

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 To commemorate this year’s Pan-African Women’s Day and in line with the global theme which addresses maternal and neonatal mortality in Africa, the female staff of Jumia Nigeria have rallied support for new mothers and other patients who couldn’t meet the discharge requirement as a result of unpaid medical bills at the Ikorodu general hospital by helping them to offset their outstanding bills.

As a result, the patients have now been discharged and equipped with financial support to cater for the new babies. The contributions were channeled through the ‘Visit A Hospital Today’ non governmental organisation (NGO) in Lagos.

The African Women’s Day, created by the African Union is commemorated on July 31st of every year to advocate for quality maternity services for disadvantaged women who continue to die needlessly in underserved communities, and to curb poor quality of health services, poor accessibility and weak referral systems for African women.

Jumia’s public relations and communications manager, Mr Olukayode Kolawole who described the financial intervention on behalf of the new mothers as kind and thoughtful, said: “when I heard about the plight of these new mothers and other patients who couldn’t meet the hospital discharge requirement because of their outstanding medical bills, I sought for support from our female staff, especially those who are mothers to contribute towards raising the sum. This collective effort towards helping other women in need through their financial resources reached far beyond what we set out to raise. Now, these women have been discharged and the babies are receiving the needed motherly affection.”

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Founder of Visit-A-Hospital NGO, Miss Aderonke Rene Ahmed said hundreds of new mothers and women are always stuck in most hospitals because of lack of funds to pay for their medical bills. “Every week, we’re always in different hospitals providing financial support for these patients. We thank the wonderful women at Jumia Nigeria for sponsoring this month’s hospital visit.” Until now, these new mothers had been stuck at the general hospital with their babies for a few weeks because they couldn’t pay their medical bills. “Jumia’s intervention provided succor for them in the nick of time,”she added.

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About Jumia Group

Jumia is the leading pan-African e-commerce platform, present across 14 countries in Africa. Its mission is to improve the quality of everyday life in Africa by leveraging technology to deliver innovative, convenient and affordable online services to consumers while helping businesses grow as they use Jumia’s platform to better reach and serve consumers.

The Jumia platform consists of a marketplace, which connects sellers with consumers, a logistics service, which enables the shipment and delivery of packages from sellers to consumers, and a payment service, which facilitates transactions among participants active on the Jumia platform in selected markets. On the marketplace, more than 80,000 sellers offer a broad range of goods and on-demand services.

Jumia Logistics facilitates the delivery of goods in a convenient and reliable way, leveraging an extensive network of third-party logistics service providers, seamlessly integrated through the Jumia proprietary technology platform.

JumiaPay offers a safe and easy solution to facilitate online transactions on the Jumia platform, with the intention of integrating additional financial services in the future.

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