London — From the very earliest of days of the internet in Africa, a recurring idea has been that it would be possible to sell African craft and design globally to European or American buyers looking for something different. But over the last two decades these kinds of sites have usually been disappointing. According to Taboure: “There have been many attempts. We’ve seen dozens of websites, starting and dying. Too many of them start from wanting to curate products rather than giving people what they want.”
Taboure is Malian and after working all over the word for companies like PwC and Alstom, he and his two co-founders, Abdoul Kadry Diallo and Luc B. Perussault Diallo, decided to launch Afrikrea in Abidjan in 2016. CTO Diallo has over 20 years experience in e-commerce.
Over five years since it started, it has built up 182,000 products on its site. It sells clothing, jewelry, bags and accessories, fabrics, beauty, wellness and food, and home and art:”It’s a marketplace and moderation makes sure that products are compliant. There’s dynamic display so that users see the kinds of things they interact with.” The biggest source of sellers is Nigeria followed by Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal. But it also has Africans living in France selling African products.
The stats are impressive. It US$10 million plus of transactions in 150+ countries, 50,000 buyers globally and 200,000 followers on social media. The average transaction is US$45 but it sells items up to US$3,000.”We offer the largest choice and you can filter by price.
The majority of buyers are from Europe and the USA and it is trying to get more African buyers. To achieve this, it will be adding local mobile money options:”The number of local African buyers has tripled over the last year from a low base.”
90% of its sellers are women, with 80% from Anglophone countries having studied or worked previously in their area of sales, compared to only 40% in Francophone countries. Broadly speaking, there are three types of sellers in the market: exporters selling African products to the world, social commerce sellers and sellers in Europe and the USA who manage local partners. There are currently 2,000 sellers but in three years time Taboure told me there will be “many more using it. There will be a revolution of Global African sellers.” The social commerce sellers are probably Afrikrea’s biggest competitors. They use Facebook and WhatsApp as sales channels and Taboure wants to make the process easier for them with his new product ANKA.
“It can generate payment links on these and other platforms and save time with tracking orders. Facebook is not designed to keep track of sales. Most competitors stop at the point of buying. Our model is much more Ali Baba.” The module can plug into the seller’s website or chosen platform and they can choose to save money on shipping through Afrikrea’s partnership with DHL:”The buyer can talk to the seller all along the transaction. You can sell the story and a service. We have our own Visa card and we can give payment links to the seller and combine that with our own mobile money wallet.”
The service is subscription-based and can operate across a range of channels including websites and social media but consolidate what’s happening in one place:”The motivation for doing ANKA is following my clients. The best sellers have invested time in creating new products and ANKA frees up more time for this sort of creativity.”
Just a quick reminder… If you’re interested in AgTech, see Building a Data Ecosystem for Food Security and Sustainability AgTech V3.0 by Russell Southwood and Kelly Wong for CIAT, Bioversity International and International Food Policy Research Institute. To download a copy: https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/111666/Building%20a%20Data%20Ecosystem_XH.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Beem has been selected at the East Africa Com Connectivity Champion for 2021. This award celebrates the telecommunication providers and services going above-and-beyond to ensure connectivity across Africa. Beem is a Pan-African cloud communications provider that enables enterprises to deliver sms, ussd, airtime and other telecommunications services to over 500 million+ subscribers, in 20+ African countries and 55+ mobile network operators across Africa.
South Africa: Part of a multi-billion Rand investment by WIOCC has added 30 additional PoPs are on a new 1,700km terrestrial link between Durban and Cape Town, bringing more affordable connectivity to coastal towns from Somerset West, Grabouw, Caledon and Swellendam in the Western Cape, through to Doonside, Kingsburgh and Isipingo in KwaZulu Natal. Furthermore, WIOCC’s policy of not imposing aggregation restrictions allows clients to serve multiple end-users over a single WIOCC connection.
Nigeria: Uber has announced to drivers that it has increased the price on UberX. According to its statement:”At Uber, we remain committed to providing a reliable earning opportunity for driver-partners, as well as a reliable and affordable service for riders. With this in mind, starting 11th May 2021, we are increasing prices on UberX by about 13%.”
Kenya: The first trial of a new digital learning programme for young adults has now gone live in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya which is run by the UNHCR, and home to around 200,000 people. The Beekee Hub has been developed by the Geneva-based startup Beekee, an EdTech spin-off of the University of Geneva (Switzerland), specifically for use in emergency settings where student numbers far exceed the number of available schools and teachers. The Beekee Hub is a semi-nomadic device which creates a wireless network so that students can access content inside the Hub from the browser of their own smart feature phones, smartphones, laptops and tablets. The Hub acts as a last-mile relay and connects to the Internet on-demand to download new material and to synchronize learning and enable access to collaboration tools such as Beekee Live.
Orange has announced that, in several of its subsidiaries in the Middle East and Africa, it is deploying innovative solar solutions and the latest generation batteries with partners specializing in energy. To reduce its environmental footprint, the Group is positioning itself in these countries as the biggest deployer of solar panels, with a renewable energy use rate already at over 50% for Orange Guinea, 41% for Orange Madagascar and 40% for Orange Sierra Leone. Orange is accelerating its solar projects in Africa and the Middle East to reduce its carbon footprint to zero by 2040. Since 2018, the company has successfully reduced its CO2 emissions by 45 kilotons thanks to this solar infrastructure.
MÉTISS is a 3,200 km subsea fibre optic cable system connecting South Africa to the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius. The MÉTISS consortium comprises Canal+ Télécom, CEB Fibernet, Emtel, Zeop and SRR (SFR) Telma. The MÉTISS cable lands in Amanzimtoti and is backhauled by Liquid Telecoms to Teraco’s data centre in Durban (DB1).
A Kenyan insurtech startup Lami has raised $1.8m to scale its product across Africa.
South Africa-based carrier MTN Group has announced its results for the three months ending 31 March 2021, claiming to have delivered a ‘strong and resilient’ performance with service revenue up 17.8% year-on-year to ZAR42.3 billion (USD2.93 billion), driven by gains in data and fintech revenue, and EBITDA up 21.3% with the EBITDA margin widening from 42.7% to 44.2%.
Zimbabwe: The government of Zimbabwe owes state-owned fixed line telco TelOne ZWL945 million (USD2.61 million) which the operator claims has constrained its cash flow and operations to the extent that it is ‘facing difficulty in setting its key service providers and statutory obligations’. A report from 263 Chat says that the government debt accounted for around 60% of TelOne’s total outstanding payments of ZWL1.58 billion at 31 March 2021.