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Mauritius leads Africa in global online shopping rankings, Netherlands first

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The Netherlands has placed top of UNCTAD’s Business-to-Consumer (B2C) E-commerce Index for 2018 as the most prepared country in the world for global online shopping. Mauritius leads Africa, ranked 55th.

The new index, released today in Nairobi, Kenya shows that eight of the top ten countries for online shopping are in Europe, with index values extremely close and a range of just four points between first and tenth rank.

The highest-scoring African country on the new B2C E-commerce Index is Mauritius, with a global ranking of 55.

The Netherlands, which ranked third in 2017, ousted Luxembourg, which dropped out of the top ten as a result of a sharp fall in its postal reliability score.

“The Netherlands has high values for most indicators, particularly in secure servers – a proxy for e-commerce shops – where it is top-ranked among all 151 countries included in the index,” Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s division on technology and logistics, said.

“The country also has the second highest proportion of online shoppers in the world – 76% of the population aged 15 and older.”

Singapore and Switzerland are in second and third place. Singapore has surged 16 positions since 2017, with increased values across all indicators. It now ranks among the top countries in accounts, secure-server penetration and postal reliability. Switzerland also rates favourably on all indicators.

The United Kingdom climbed to fourth position, boasting the highest B2C spending per shopper in Europe and the world’s highest proportion of B2C revenues to GDP. Norway and Sweden, fifth and eighth respectively, have among the world’s highest values for all indicators, except secure-server penetration.

Iceland, ranked sixth, has near ubiquitous Internet access with 98% of the population online, the highest in the world (with Bahrain and Norway). Its score is brought down by a relatively low level of postal reliability, possibly a reflection of challenging terrain and weather conditions in the nation. One alternative is drone delivery, which has already been launched by Iceland’s biggest B2C e-commerce company.

New Zealand ranked ninth and Denmark completes the top ten.

Asian nations lead among top 10 developing countries

All but one of the top ten developing countries in the B2C E-commerce Index 2018 are from East Asia or the Middle East, and all are upper-middle-income or high-income economies.

Unlike the global top ten, the range of index values between developing countries is wide with a 26-point difference between first and tenth. Compared to the 2017 index, Singapore has swapped ranks with the Republic of Korea as the top-ranked country in the list.

Mauritius and Trinidad and Tobago have dropped out while Chile (the only non-Asian country on the list) and Turkey have entered. Hong Kong (China) ranks second among developing economies and 15th in the world. Like Singapore, it is a small economy with relatively high values on all indicators.

The United Arab Emirates, ranked fourth, does well in Internet usage and accounts, with room to improve for secure servers and postal reliability to emerge as a top-ranked nation in B2C e-commerce readiness.

Malaysia, ranked fifth, is balanced across all dimensions of the index. Just over a third of the population made an online purchase in 2017 and the country has one of the highest proportions of B2C sales to GDP in the world. Sixth-ranked Thailand does well in postal reliability and Internet penetration has reached over half of the population aged six and above.

Turkey is a new entrant into the top ten developing countries. Now ranked seventh, it had one of the most significant increases in Internet access in the world in 2017, up six percentage points. The growth in Internet users drove a four-percentage-point rise in online shopping to 21% of the population.

The Islamic Republic of Iran ranks eighth among developing countries. The country’s main strength is a high level of account ownership. Despite recurring sanctions, the nation has the second largest online shopping market among the top ten developing economies.

Chile does well on all indicators although postal reliability drags its score down. The country boasts the highest sales value per online shopper in Latin America and some 15% of enterprises in the country already sell online.

The 2018 B2C E-commerce Index was launched today at the first Africa eCommerce Week in Nairobi, Kenya. The event runs from 10-14 December.

Co-organized by UNCTAD, the African Union and the European Union, Africa eCommerce Week is hosted by the Government of Kenya and held in collaboration with partners of the eTrade for all initiative.

Under the theme Empowering African Economies in the Digital Era, Africa eCommerce Week will examine ways to enhance the ability of African countries to engage in and benefit from e-commerce and the evolving digital economy.

(NAN)

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Shelter Afrique target East African bourses, pension funds in USD500M housing bond

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Shelter Afrique’s Ag. Managing Director Kingsley Muwowo (Image: Supplied)

Buoyed by the successful local currency bond debut in Nigeria early this year, pan- African housing development financier Shelter Afrique is planning to tap into the East Africa capital markets and pension funds to finance affordable housing projects in the region.

Speaking in Nairobi, Shelter Afrique’s Ag. Managing Director Kingsley Muwowo disclosed that the Company was considering issuing local currency Medium Term Notes in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

“Already, we have opened negotiations with Kenya’s Capital Market Authority on the possibility of Shelter Afrique issuing another housing bond to support local housing projects and we plan to do the same with capital market authorities in Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. We want to approach it as an East Africa issue- meaning we’ll issue Kenya Shilling bond, Uganda and Tanzania shillings bonds, and Rwandese Franc bond, subject to availability of bankable projects in each of the markets,” Mr. Muwowo explained.

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Mr. Muwowo noted that such a strategy would make it easier for pension funds such as Kenya’s National Social Security Fund, Uganda National Social Security Fund, Rwanda Social Security Board, and Public Service Pensions Fund of Tanzania, to invest in housing projects in the region and earn decent returns.

“Our experience with the Nigerian bond debut is that pension funds present a viable option to tap funds for affordable housing projects. We equally believe they have the capacity to provide long term funding for such projects,” Mr. Muwowo said.

Shelter Afrique has had ten successful local currency bond issues in Kenya dating back to 2000s, which Mr. Muwowo says, have been successfully retired – demonstrating the Company’s strong investment rating in terms of local currency issues.

Beyond cities

Mr. Muwowo said the Company was keen on extending housing projects financing beyond major cities and into rural areas, adding that every part of the countries should be able to benefit from housing projects funding.

“At the moment, we have housing projects in cities like Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa – in the case of Kenya, or Lagos and Abuja in the case of Nigeria. Our aim is to roll out housing projects all over the countries in member States. In Kenya, for instance, we are already in talks with the National Housing Corporation to implement this,” Mr. Muwowo said.

The Company has several projects in Kenya including Everest Park Apartments, Richland Point Apartment, Karibu Homes, Pine City and Sigona Valley in Nairobi; Lake Breeze Apartments and Translakes Apartments in Kisumu; and Eden Beach Apartments and KMA Housing Apartments in Mombasa.

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Lipa Later Group Acquires Sky.Garden, One Of East Africa’s Leading E-Commerce Platforms

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Lipa Later Group, has acquired Sky.Garden in a move that re-energizes our commitment to bridging the gap between the merchant and a customer with more empowerment between both parties, merchant and customer, stellar service, stellar tech, and revamped strategies that promise to disrupt the industry.

This acquisition of Sky.Garden by Lipa Later marks an important milestone in the group’s goal to offer innovative solutions that meet the needs of businesses and consumers. This move will enable Lipa Later to expand our customer base and solidify our presence in the market.

The e-commerce industry has exploded in recent years, providing businesses with the opportunity to reach customers quickly, cheaply, and more often. This is the driving force behind the decision to invest in Sky.Garden.

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Speaking during the onboarding ceremony, Lipa Later CEO Eric Muli reiterated that the acquisition is timely as fintech continues to build an end-to-end avenue that connects merchants to customers and vice versa.

“Guided by our objective to empower African businesses and consumers to do more by enabling e-commerce, financial inclusion and shopping all on one centralized and fully integrated platform, our plan has always been to venture into e-commerce with unique value propositions for our consumers. Sky.Garden has done an incredible job and checks all those boxes. Lipa Later is no stranger to the e-commerce industry, having already established a strong presence in the online payment and finance sectors. This acquisition has greatly accelerated our plans of redefining the shopping experience for consumers,” said Lipa Later CEO Eric Muli.

Sky.Garden, which has raised north of $6,000,000 prior to this acquisition, will now be fully owned by Lipa Later Group and will continue to operate using its name.

With the acquisition of Sky.Garden, Lipa Later is now in a position to provide a comprehensive e-commerce solution to consumers, and with Sky.Garden’s established infrastructure and market presence, consumers will be able to purchase items from Sky Garden using any preferred payment method including Lipa Later’s buy now, pay later model which provides for a payment plan that is flexible and affordable through monthly instalments.

Last month, we saw no other option than to file for insolvency,” Martin Majlund, founder of Sky.Garden, reiterated. “Today, I’m happy to see that Sky Garden will live on with new owners and new management. We built a great product over time, and I believe Lipa Later has the potential to take Sky Garden to the next level. Through this acquisition, the vision of Sky Garden will continue to live on while retaining jobs and businesses on our platform.”

This acquisition is a key step forward in our goal of becoming a leader in the e-commerce space. The acquisition of Sky.Garden by Lipa Later presents a great opportunity for both companies to benefit from each other’s strengths and further the growth of the e-commerce industry. With the combination of our expertise in financial services and Sky.Garden’s innovative e-commerce platform, the potential for growth is tremendous, and the impact this could have on the industry could be immense. Expansion plans are in place to see Sky.Garden integrated across other Lipa Later countries of operation which include Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria.

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VENCO secures $670,000 pre-seed funding

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VENCO, a technology company that provides solutions to enhance living experiences in residential and commercial communities in Africa, has secured $670,000 in an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round to scale its all-in-one technology platform that manages collections, service charge administration, utilities vending, visitor access and other services associated with multi-unit property developments across Africa.

The pre-seed funding round was led by Zrosk Investment Management, with participation from other strategic investors including Voltron Capital, Decimal Point Ventures, Fast Forward Fund, Tayo Oviosu (CEO of Paga), Odun Eweniyi (COO of Piggyvest), Oo Nwoye, Desigan Chinniah, Dakar Network Angels and Viktoria Business Angel Network. Starting with Nigeria and Kenya, the new funding will support VENCO to build out its credit delivery infrastructure for rent and household spend, as well as its expansion into other cities and countries on the continent. 

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With growing urbanisation across Africa, multi-property developments have emerged as the preferred mode of delivering residential and commercial real estate. Of the 2.5 million households in Nigeria that earn more than $1,000 per month, 80 percent live in multi-property communities. 25 percent of their income is spent on rent and 50 percent is spent on other household needs, including consumables, utilities, internet data, cable TV and other services. This market for household spend represents a $22.5 billion opportunity in Nigeria, and $100 billion across Africa.

However, with the process of managing various aspects of life in these communal developments being largely manual and paper-based, there are many inefficiencies that negatively impact residents’ experience and profitability for property owners. For example, the default-rate on service charge collection for multi-property developments in Africa can be as high as 60 percent, which means that property managers are either out of pocket or forced to operate on insufficient funds. Even when payments are collected, the manual process means reconciliation is error-prone and theft is common.

Co-founded by Chude Osiegbu (CEO), Reagan Mbitiru (CTO) and Uzochukwu Alor (COO), VENCO automates collection and reconciliation of all dues and payments in communities resulting in improved receipts and better margins for property owners. For residents, self-service tools provided by VENCO make processes such as visitor control, issue and emergency management as well as utilities-vending more seamless. With residents able to build an economic profile based on their financial transactions on the VENCO platform, they can now access a range of embedded financial services, including insurance, credit facilitation for rent, service charges and household spend along with many other services.

VENCO has recorded over 200 percent growth over the last 9 months and is currently in 6 cities and more than 12,000 property units across Nigeria and Kenya. Since January 2022, it has processed more than $10 million in transaction value via its platform. The company is also partnering with ecommerce platforms to enable easier access to merchants within and around the community, energy companies to ensure reliable energy metering and collections, and other service providers to improve the overall experience in these communities.

According to Chude Osiegbu, CEO and co-founder of VENCO, “the manual nature of many processes associated with life in residential and commercial communities in Africa presents many issues that we believe technology can fix. Beyond this, we also want to leverage technology to deliver new services and experiences that will transform how people live in Africa’s growing cities and create better value for everyone across the board. Our goal is to deliver technology solutions that will enhance living experiences across the continent, and we are excited to have raised these funds to support that mission”

Samson Esemuede, Managing Director, and Chief Investment Officer at Zrosk Investment Management said The team at VENCO are building a platform that allows for the validation of the GDP of the African household. Not only does a platform like VENCO allow for significant improvement in the experience of African residents, facility managers and property owners, it could potentially unlock at scale the sort of financial services the African consumer really needs. We view VENCO as both a SAAS and a financial inclusion play with a potential for strong multiplicative impact across the continent. We are excited to support the VENCO team in achieving their vision”.

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