With e-commerce becoming the next big, or already big in other countries, Zambia is at the beginning of the race with most of its runners not knowing the rules, or not being cheered on by its fans.
First, let me define e-commerce as simply as possible; the exchange or trade of goods and services for money, but with payments done over the internet, or via mobile platforms. hence ‘e’ for electronic, ‘commerce’ for the trading part.
What needs to happen?
The World Bank has spoken out. They have urged the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority, mobile operators and the Zambian government to get together and make e-commerce work big time in the country.
It gave an example of using mobile money to make payments to people in rural areas that may have little or no access to big financial institutions due to possible distance constraints, but are able to access a mobile money agent. We’ve seen this slowly happening with initiatives such as Airtel and MTN’s mobile money platforms. These have options to enable subscribers make transactions over their phone from the comfort of their home. In a way, mobile operators are becoming financial institutions for that very reason.
Then there are organisations/online markets such as Kaymu, KaDealo, Bus Ticket Zambia, and others that are based on online trading and mobile payments’ usage. Depending on mobile money as one of the pay options, they are boosting e-commerce in Zambia. Other companies are also teaming up with mobile operators to allow payments be made through them with mobile money.
I’ve talked (written?) much about mobile money in this article about e-commerce because the two can not be separated for now. Hand in hand they will go for a long time to come. It is almost always the main option for payment on the e-commerce sites in Zambia right now so I wouldn’t toss it if I were you.
With almost everyone owning a gadget of some sort with internet access, there is vast potential for e-commerce to rule the Zambian market. We all want to be able to sit on our couch and order what we need/want off our phone and have it brought to us rather than following it all the way to a physical shop, atleast I want to.
The benefits of e-commerce are many:
The challenges e-commerce is faceing would mostly be attributed to fear by the Zambian public about being scammed. It is up to the e-commerce traders to develop trust as soon as they can and prove that buying/selling online is in.
This is almost 2015, and e-commerce needs to get out of bed this coming year. Watch this space as we follow that journey…
Image Credits: eComms, Slideshare