Nigeria's digital landscape is flourishing. The country has one of the biggest internet economies in Africa. With the continent’s largest population and one of the youngest worldwide, Nigeria presents a vast digital audience. Nigeria has one of the best network coverages, as well as good infrastructure for mobile connectivity in Africa. Internet penetration is around 70 percent and is projected to increase steadily. Estimates from different sources put the number of smartphone users in Nigeria at roughly 25 and 40 million. In fact, mobile devices are much more frequently used to access the internet than desktop devices. In 2019, over 70 percent of internet accesses were recorded on mobile devices, whereas this share was even higher when it came to online marketplace visits.
Key players in Nigeria
In 2019, the B2C index value for e-commerce stood at 53.2 points, the fourth highest in Africa. The B2C E-commerce index measures an economy’s preparedness to support online shopping by taking different indicators into account. Nigeria is among the African countries with the largest number of online marketplaces. The most popular marketplace in terms of visitor numbers is by far Jumia. Jumia is based in Lagos and operates in 14 African countries. Other popular online marketplaces in Nigeria are Jiji, Konga, and Cheki. Konga.com, for instance, recorded some 30 million web visitors in 2019, which consisted mostly of a very young audience. Marketplaces for cars are very popular. Some 14 percent of all online marketplaces present in the country specialized in vehicles.
How to embrace Nigeria's digital potential
According to recent reports, several factors are restraining the digital economy in Nigeria to fully embrace its potential. Broadband coverage in rural areas is still poor and far from the dynamic reality of large urban cities like Lagos. Additionally, there is a lack of adequate equipment to fully use the internet, like computers or mobile devices. In order to develop its digital potential and create millions of jobs, the country needs, among other things, to further invest in infrastructure, improve skills, and implement investment opportunities. Moreover, another aspect which might influence digital shopping in Nigeria, as well as in the rest of Africa, is the low penetration of online payments. Only 3.4 percent of men and 1.7 percent of women in Nigeria own a credit card, while some 6.3 percent use to make purchases or pay bills online. However, many digital platforms in Nigeria accept cash as payment methods, known as “cash-on-delivery”, which is very popular among customers.
Fastest growing e-commerce sectors
Despite the low popularity of credit cards and digital payments, e-commerce has been growing significantly in Nigeria, especially between 2019 and 2020. Food and personal care rose by 56 percent, whereas the fashion and beauty sector experienced an increase of over 40 percent. The most valuable e-commerce sector in Nigeria was, indeed, fashion and beauty, which achieved 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in consumer spending. Overall, the number of visitors in online marketplaces grew constantly, exceeding 250 million in 2019. In addition, the results of different surveys conducted by Statista in 2021 show that Nigerians have a very positive attitudes towards online shopping. Clothing , shoes, and consumer electronics were the most common items purchased online among Nigerian respondents.
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