Covid-19 boosts e-commerce in Kenya

By Frankline Odhiambo &

Judy Ndunge

Africa’s leading e-commerce platform, Jumia, has published its first Africa e-commerce report dubbed, Jumia Africa e-Commerce Index 2021. The report leverages the company’s extensive consumer data to unpack trends in online shopping throughout the pandemic.

The most significant insight is the strong shift of consumer online shopping behavior towards everyday product categories (FMCG, Beauty). These accounted for c. 57% of GMV in 2020, up from 44% in 2019.

The shift is part of a broader economic transformation led by the continent’s young, urban and tech-savvy population. The report was compiled in collaboration with UNCTAD, IFC, and Mastercard, highlighting the impact of e-commerce on the African economy.

Jumia Kenya CEO Sam Chappate said: “Online grocery shopping has lagged other categories historically in Kenya. The pandemic has shifted consumer behavior. Kenyans are now increasingly considering online shopping for their everyday needs – seeking convenience and competitive prices. This is an important shift for the e-commerce industry because it allows us to become a more relevant service & bigger part of everyday life for Kenyans” Jumia has extended retail services to rural areas in Kenya since the pandemic first hit in March 2020. It has since doubled the number of pick-up stations countrywide to more than 1,000 today, offering convenience and a 30% reduction in shipping fees. This is a welcome move to consumers, especially with the shift to everyday essentials.

“We believe our large range of products and competitive pricing is relevant for consumers inand outside Nairobi. By expanding our pick-up station network and working with local entrepreneurs, we are already seeing an acceleration of e-commerce penetration upcountry,” said Chappatte.

The report also shows that Nairobi tops the list as the Kenyan city with the highest number of online deliveries followed by Mombasa and Kiambu. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), internet businesses in Africa, including e-commerce which sits at the heart of the digital economy, could
add US $180 billion to the continent’s GDP by 2025.

“COVID-19 led to a surge in the use of digital solutions, including e-commerce. This was particularly demonstrated with domestic sales rather than cross-border e-commerce. Food delivery, essentials and pharmaceutical goods were among the top-performing online shopping categories,” said Torbjorn Fredriksson, Head of E-commerce and Digital economy, UNCTAD.

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