'How E-Commerce Can Grow Nigeria's Economy' [interview]
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) To Peter Elofusim, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Awoofdey Marketing,,an on-line shopping platform, Nigeria, despite being the largest economy in Africa, is yet to fully optimise the underlying economic benefits of e-commerce. In this interview with Chuka Odittah of our Abuja Bureau, Elofusim canvasses the establishment of a strong regulatory platform to monitor the growing sector, even as he urged the Federal Government to provide enabling guidelines and policies to further boost the industry's contributions to the nation's Gross Domestic Product(GDP), like other big economies. Excerpts:
What is e-commerce all about?
E-commerce is simply electronic commerce or EC. It is the buying and selling of goods and services or the transmitting of funds or data from one point to another, over an electronic network, primarily the internet. The term e-commerce and e-business are often used interchangeably. E-commerce is conducted using a variety of applications such as email,fax,online catalogs and Electronic Data Interchange(EDI),File transfer protocol and web services.
What are the benefits of e-commerce to a nation like Nigeria that is currently Africa's largest economy?
The benefits of e-commerce are numerous. But they include its round-the-clock availability, the speed of access, a wider selection of goods and services, accessibility, and international reach. So you don't really have to move about physically in search of what you wish to purchase.You can do the shopping from the convenience of your internet device at home or in the office.You don't have to be in traffic. Plus you have the opportunity to do a wider survey to actually get what you want and at the best price. For a nation like Nigeria that is the largest in Africa, you are talking about a market that is worth trillions and trillions of Naira.
So far, is there a central body or association of online operators in Nigeria?
We have been meeting and having talks which we hope will crystalize to a full fledged association. To answer the question directly, none. But we're still working on that for now. It's still at the discussion stage. Hopefully, we would have one very soon.
This means that e-commerce operators are currently operating in isolation. Is this a way to grow the sector?
Actually unity of purpose is crucial when you want to grow any sector, but I believe that if an association is formed with certain laid down criteria that must be met before you can actually come on board in this business, that will be good. I believe that if we're able to achieve that in Nigeria, then we can expect a relative growth in the sector and the tendency for bad eggs to infiltrate the sector will be drastically reduced.
I believe that if we have an association or a body where there is constant accreditation of online businesses in Nigeria with a view to ensuring regulation of activities of operators, such that there is a body to report to when a customer is shortchanged, it will create credibility in the industry.
What is Awoofdey online shopping platform all about?
Our name speaks for itself, Awoofdey, you don't have to break the banks or go beyond your budget to be able to enjoy life in Nigeria because what stands us out is that we already know where to get the required services and products at the barest minimum price and because we want to live up to our business name, which is to put out goods and services at moderate charges. We charge what so many people will describe as bonanzas. It's a technology platform that we're pushing to offer services, offer entertainment and security services and create capacity, in terms of knowledge transfer to the people in Nigeria. We want people to live the good life, have the best in life without necessarily breaking the banks.
For instance, in the case of promoting products or services through our platform and we make maybe five or 10 per cent as the case may be from the general sales, we're fine with that.
We're basically trying to drive volume. For example, the last products that had very good sales on our website was computer accessories, you'll get these accessories between N8,000 and N10,000 in the open market but because we know where to buy them from and have very good relationship with the manufacturers, a N10,000 product in the open market goes for about N2,000 on our website.
Apart from these ridiculously low price rates we offer, our brand name is currently making waves in Nigeria because when people hear the name, Awoofdey, they get curious and want to know what you're offering. Like I always tell people, our primary purpose is to use internet as a platform to offer quality services and great products, entertainment and create capacity in the society and we do that at the barest minimum cost. We achieve this by sharing our dreams, goals and vision with the manufacturers and get them to buy into it because unless they buy into the vision they'll not be able to give us the goods and services at the prices we're requesting for because most times we get 15 or 20 per cent of the asking price.
What specific products do you promote on this platform?
We just don't promote only products, but also services. In terms of the products, we have electronics, computers, fashion, cosmetics, household and entertainment equipment and anything that has to do with entertainment. What we do is to seek out genuine manufacturers and ensure that what we bring in is what the buying public is asking for. On the service level, we offer spaces even for dry cleaners to promote their services, there are spaces for people involved in capacity building, there are also spaces for the educational.
In what way has government provided security for this kind of market?
The e-commerce sector is still at the nascent stage in Nigeria and I would say that the government has not really done much in terms of regulating the business. Basically the role of the government in promoting the sector would be to put structures, programmes and policies in place to regulate the online business in Nigeria because when confidence is eroded by unwholesome practices it will not augur well for the promotion of the business.
Copyright The Guardian. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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