Led by the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, government agencies such as National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) have been formulating policy directions towards a vibrant digital economy for Nigeria.
Achieving a digital economy however goes beyond policies. To spark digital activities and generate traffic needed for the desired growth, more businesses, especially in the retail sector, have to transit online. At the forefront of this transaction is e-commerce. With 58 online marketplaces in the Nigerian e-commerce space, activities in the business-to-consumer segment of the market have been remarkable. While the B2C segment gained acceptance, the informal retail sector which is an integral part of Nigeria’s economy was hitherto left behind.
In the last three years, innovative e-commerce brands like Alerzo, TradeDepot, Omnibiz have taken up the challenge of bringing the $100 billion Nigerian informal retail market into the growing digital community. As evident in advanced markets, bringing hundreds of thousands of retailers online tends to have a ripple impact on the development of the economy. By their business models, B2B e-commerce platforms are a chain of activities that open up economic opportunities such as job creation, financial inclusion and technology advancement.
An industry innovator and expert, Adewale Opaleye, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Alerzo Limited, explained that through their activities, B2B e-commerce platforms allow local retailers to improve their businesses and become profitable and thus encourages them to hire more staff to support their production and/or distribution activities. Beyond this, he explained that there are far reaching impacts of these platforms combined to drive overall growth of the economy. “B2B digital platforms enable hundreds of SMEs across Nigeria to run profitable and sustainable businesses, benefiting from the economics of digitization to achieve a significant increase in their activity level. This facilitates economic development in Nigeria by allowing many entrepreneurs (retailers) to embark on new innovative projects.
B2B platforms like Alerzo are also shaping the Nigeria narrative by showcasing the attractive investment opportunities to the world, while also reaching people in rural areas and giving them access to extensive catalogue of products and logistics. We also facilitate development and financial inclusion through digital payment platforms. For instance, Alerzo, through AlerzoPay, is contributing to the development of dematerialized payment solutions which are key to the success of e-commerce and an important asset for Nigeria when it comes to development prospects,” Opaleye explained. According to him, Alerzo directly employs more than 1,700 people in its operational chain.
The Federal government recently espoused the improving impact of e-commerce on the country’s economy, saying the current e-commerce spending in Nigeria has grown to $13billion per annum and expected to hit $75billion in revenue per annum by 2025. It also said e-commerce grew in Nigeria from 14% in 2019 to 17% in 2020. The government has also expressed passion about the growing investment opportunities in the e-commerce value chain, which are capable of contributing significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
With increasing internet penetration riding on mobile smartphone adoption, the pillars for a vibrant digital economy are gradually falling in place. At this point, it can be safely said that Nigeria’s digital economy plan is heading towards the right direction; thanks to innovative e-commerce brands facilitating needed activities.