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How eCommerce is Driving Selling to People Who Aren’t Online

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By Adeniyi Ogunfowoke,

With the rate or speed at which the internet or World Wide Web is revolutionising the world and Africa, you would think everyone is already online. This is not the case especially in Africa and many emerging economies. A report by Internet World Stats says that Africa remains the least connected continent. Africa’s broadband household penetration accounted for 36.1% as at June 2018, far behind the worldwide average of 55.1% (North America – 95.0%; Europe – 85.2%, Middle East – 64.5% and Asia 49.0%).

This reveals that quite a handful of people in Africa notwithstanding whether they are inhabiting urban or rural areas are still offline. Despite these figures, it does not disregard the fact that internet usage is growing especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

This rapid internet growth can be observed in the ballooning of eCommerce in countries like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa ably pioneered by Jumia. Many now order or book items, food and hotels online. This is definitely for those who are online.

The question now is what happens to those who are offline? Don’t they purchase groceries, household items and use hotels? Yes, they do. They will probably visit brick and mortar stores to buy these items and use these services which is obviously very inconveniencing.

Expectedly, since they are offline, they are not supposed to enjoy the benefits of eCommerce. This is also wrong because being offline does not mean you won’t relish these services from Jumia and others. If they are ignored or neglected because they are offline, the truth is eCommerce sites will be losing out on people who have the purchasing power but whose undoing is that they are offline, which is in most situations no fault of theirs.

What is being done to sell to people who are offline?

What??? An eCommerce platform selling to Africans who are offline? It is impossible. Well, as Jumia continues to innovate to satisfy and meet customer demands, it has over the years sold to customers who are offline across its different markets in Africa.

Jumia has set up customer adoption centres (boutique-style booths) with laptops and tablets, where prospective shoppers can navigate its online marketplaces, guided by company representatives. Those who are offline can easily walk into these customer adoption centres to place and process their orders. The booths are situated in strategic locations.

JForce, a similar program, already in place, has salespeople going door to door with Wi-Fi-connected tablets. The top JForce performers can become regional and neighbourhood “captains,” which lets their clients place orders and receive customer service and delivery directly from them. It allows agents to become entrepreneurs effectively operating their own online retail business right from home.

With these painstaking efforts, Jumia has been able to extend the convenience of eCommerce to many offline folks.

Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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E-Business

Rack Centre Wins Data Cloud Award Excellence for a Second Year Running

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Rack Centre, Africa’s premium Tier III certified colocation data centre services provider has been announced as the winner for a second year running at the 2019 Datacloud Awards in Monaco.  It won the Excellence in Regional Data Centre Middle East and Africa.

In selecting Rack Centre for the award, the august panel of judges took into account the company’s outstanding ecosystem of robust and direct connectivity with over 35 carriers and five undersea cables, its ability to scale its operations through its modular nature and its low proven Power Utilisation Effectiveness despite a challenging climatic and infrastructural environment.

The judges also considered Rack Centre’s service delivery, its outstanding customer satisfaction, achievement of 100% uptime since inception, and its CloudonGroundTM that offers a locally hosted and world class cloud ecosystem to Nigeria and Sub Saharan Africa. Held in Monaco recently, the Datacloud Global Award, organised by BroadGroup, Publisher of the UK based Data Economy recognises teams, products, innovations, initiatives and projects in the global IT industry.

Phillip Low, Chairman of Broadgroup, said the awards helps to define a new era in the IT infrastructure market and acknowledges the inspirational people, innovation and excellence in the data centre, cloud and edge eco-system, and reflect the tremendous success and achievements in diversity, innovation and excellence.

The winners were selected by judges comprised of independent panels of leading professionals from the industry who looked particularly for companies and individuals with evidences of success in performance, innovation in delivering services and high levels of industry’s excellence.

Dr Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director of Rack Centre reacting to the company’s winning the coveted award for the second year’s running commented ” we are truly honoured, delighted and humbled at the award, and thank the judges for recognising Rack Centre for excellence in Middle East and Africa.  A great recognition indeed from highly respected global leaders in the industry, and the leading global industry event in Monaco”.

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Nigeria @ Outskirts of Mobile IoT, AI Services

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Chris Uwaje, Africa chair for IEEE World Internet of Things (WIoT)
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The deployment of mobile Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence services in Nigeria has been described as sluggish compared to giant strides by some African countries.

 

According to the AI Maturity Report in South Africa, commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Ernst & Young, ‘AI pilots and experimentation are now prolific across South African companies, with businesses showing a willingness to embrace AI and experiment using new technology.

 

In fact, 46% of South African companies say they are already actively piloting AI within their organisations.

 

The study is based on surveys, interviews and case studies from 112 companies across the Middle East and Africa (MEA).

 

Reacting to why AI and mobile IoT services are not visible in Nigeria as well not focus of operators, Oladipo Raji, president/CEO, InfraFocus Technologies, told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that the biggest problems operators face in the launch of services on the new applications is connectivity and power issues.

 

“Imagine what happens in a house that is driven by IoT application when network fails or there is power outage how would people inside the house come out in the case of emergence. Why don’t we have electric trains in Nigeria? It is not rocket science only that there is no solid IT infrastructure on where the solution will ride as well power challenge.

 

“Most companies don’t have the financial capacity to build their own connectivity infrastructure for these services that is why you see them cluster around urban areas where such infrastructure is available,” he said.

 

Raji cited example of his company’s subsidiary, SmartFocus which spent three years to build infrastructure for its mobile IoT service ‘SmartHome’.

 

He explained that SmartHome solution allows subscribers to control their devices at home with a smartphone from anywhere in the world.

 

“The connectivity infrastructure we have built for this solution can’t take care of the whole of Lagos if they are to subscribe to it. Ideally, government should provide this type of infrastructure or enabling environment for operators to build capacity, but the case is different in Nigeria,” he noted.

 

He also decried none regulation of data service provision in the country which according to him has resulted to the death of many internet service providers.

 

“Data is free for all. This should not be so, NCC tried to correct it with data floor policy which didn’t work. The idea of four GSM operators selling mobile data to their subscriber and as well sale to corporate offices will not move the sector forward,” he said.

 

Engr. Samuel Adeleke, managing director, Steineng Ltd berated mobile operators for not doing enough to develop data segment of their services.

 

“What will drive the next economy is data, but operators are frustrating the impending data revolution through capping of data service to subscribers. They don’t allow subscribers unlimited data service, it is a case of a very wide good road and they are given tricycle to ride on it.

 

“They need to increase capacity reduce access rate and increase access, this will make subscribers addicted to the service and use more. Profitability is economy of scale,” he explained.

 

 

 

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Huawei Hosts 150 Partners @ Launch of Wi-Fi 6

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Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited recently hosted over 150 of partners at the global launch of its Wi-Fi 6 in Nigeria to discuss network solutions for business development.

 

The global annual IP club event brought together Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry experts across public and private sectors to discuss network solutions for business development.

 

Mr Matamela Mashau, IP chief technology officer, Huawei Southern Africa, at the event with the theme `Rethink IP 2019’ in Abuja, said the company’s investment in research and development (R&D) was core strength to its continuous innovation and competitive advantage.

 

“Huawei Technologies invests over 10 per cent of sales revenue in R&D over the last 10 years. “ Also the Huawei’s global resources are channeled to local operations to better serve its customers,” he said.

 

The Wi-Fi 6, which is the latest and fastest in terms of speed and digital transformation, was launched.

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