Kenya among top countries driving e-commerce volumes in sub-Saharan Africa

A recent report by Visa has shown that Kenya is among the top market contributors to eCommerce in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the last 3 years. Visa’s white paper, titled eCommerce developments across Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), confirmed that, the Kenyan eCommerce scene has showcased growth, as the market’s financial access is largely driven by Mobile Money.

Lineshree Moodley, Head of Visa Consulting and Analytics (VCA) in sub-Saharan Africa said that the markets, Kenya included are maturing and providing the region with a solid base to accelerate eCommerce. The three leading markets in SSA are starting to mature, providing the region with an established foundation and, when twinned with the growing penetration of eCommerce, it offers players in the payment space an opportunity they can capitalise on while helping to further accelerate the expansion of eCommerce in the region,” said Moodley.

The research paper found that, in sub-Saharan Africa: cross-border transactions make up half of all ecommerce transaction volumes; eCommerce is driven by retail goods and professional services; mobile phones are the main source of digital access; and finally, that payment facilitators are a critical catalyst for digital payments.

In terms of the merchant categories driving eCommerce, for Kenya, professional and education services were the top drivers of during the period. This is attributed to the fact that the most important eCommerce enablers – the ability to access financial services, digital payment channels and digital infrastructure – are starting to take hold across SSA.

When exploring digital payments usage, the use of cards has increased across the continent, with the highest uptick taking place in Kenya with a strong preference for contactless payments, a notable point for enabling safe card payments on delivery, as well as in the use of e-wallet services, as cash is seen as a vector for the virus.

Corine Mbiaketcha, Vice President and Country Manager (East Africa) at Visa, said that it is important that eCommerce platforms are designed with end-to-end mobile enablement in mind, and that online payments provide a strong user experience that is secure and appears seamless to the customer, both for local and cross-border transactions.  

“Customers in SSA are making use of a wide range of digital payment instruments, so it is becoming increasingly important that eCommerce offers multi and even omni-channel experiences. At Visa we continue to work with traditional and new financial services companies to develop new products and capabilities that deliver on this,” said Mbiaketcha.

eCommerce has experienced phenomenal growth rates around the world, and even recent setbacks as a result of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic haven’t stopped its rise. In fact, according to recent GroupM estimates, eCommerce sales are projected to grow to $7 trillion across the globe by 2024.

As domestic eCommerce provision in SSA continues to grow, there is an exciting opportunity for SSA to develop its own regional eCommerce platforms and sustain growth, while increasing the continent’s connection to the rest of the world.


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