Microsoft Supports Africa Ecommerce Portal to Bring Economies Online
Microsoft 4Afrika has teamed up with Skrill in a marketing alliance to launch a new ecommerce portal which will integrate mobile network operators to enable Africans usage of their mobile wallets to buy from global internet brands, access free educational content and use Microsoft software.
This new form of partnership between mobile payment systems, network operators and merchants is the first of its kind in Africa and was announced at the 17th annual AfricaCom conference. The portal will be fully live by December 2014.
Nilesh Pandya, SVP of emerging markets at Skrill, said: “Africa is urbanising faster than any other continent, with cities enjoying strong levels of wireless and data coverage. It has the world’s most youthful populations and we know that it is the younger generations that are often first to embrace technology.
“Disposable incomes are rapidly increasing, making discretionary spend on e-commerce an immediate reality. These conditions deliver the perfect storm for a massive surge in consumer demand for digital payments.
“However, a high percentage of Africans remain unbanked and so have no means of paying for global online brands. Even banked Africans often find that global online merchants are reluctant to serve these markets for credit and debit card transactions due to perceived fraud risks.”
Skrill enables users to make instant, secure payments using mobile wallets from which customers can buy products and services from the company’s global network of merchants; including video on demand business iROKOtv, music download and streaming business Spinlet and a range of social gaming providers.
By logging into the portal, consumers are also given access to product offers and discounts on goods and services exclusively available through this purchase route and their mobile provider.
Via the portal, Microsoft will be providing free access to One Drive, as well as Outlook email addresses so that users can register accounts with the relevant merchants, and is the latest offering in an initiative which is already providing free access to educational content, from basic numeracy games to courses on app development through its virtual academy.
Entrepreneurs in Africa will now have the tools required to build online businesses that Skrill will enable them to monetise.
Frank McCosker, General Manager, Affordable Access and Smart Financing, Microsoft 4Afrika, said: “As part of 4Afrika’s effort towards affordable access, this portal seeks to bring Africa’s offline economies online, enabling the continent to take part in the global digital revolution, which in turn, will drive innovation, inclusion, skills and trade.
“Africa continues to be a breeding ground for major innovations that extend to the world stage. With monetisation being a priority, the offline economy cannot be ignored.”
According to a World Bank study, in low- and middle-income countries every 10 percent increase in broadband penetration, accelerates economic growth by 1.38 percent.