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Chinese businessman Yang Tao helps build Africa’s e-commerce

CHANGSHA China (Xinhua) -- Chinese businessman Yang Tao has an ambition—to build the best e-commerce platform in Africa.

The 36-year-old from central China’s Hunan Province worked in Africa in 2012 when he found the retail industry there was mostly in forms of village markets, with "fewer commodities and higher prices."

"Why not introduce the prosperous e-commerce platform to Africa?" Yang said.

In 2014, Yang founded Africa’s online shopping mall, Kilimall, in Kenya. "Clicking on the Kilimall website, African consumers can buy more than 10 million different products online, with guaranteed quality and 10-20 percent lower prices than those in the local markets, including electronics, fashion products and home appliances," Yang said.

With 73 percent mobile Internet penetration and more than 450 million Internet users in Africa, mobile payment in some African countries is becoming more popular, according to Yang.

"No one could ignore the trends, and we should leverage digitalization to realize the new possibility for Africa and China.

"E-commerce is a new option to accelerate economic growth and create employment," he said.


Chinese businessman Yang Tao founded Africa’s online shopping mall, Kilimall, in Kenya | Coastweek

CHANGSHA China (Xinhua) --  In 2014 Chinese businessman Yang Tao founded Africa’s online shopping mall, Kilimall, in Kenya. XINHUA PHOTO
After five years of development, Kilimall now has 5 million African users and handles tens of thousands of orders every day.

"The annual business volume can reach over 72 million U.S. dollars," the CEO said.

It has established operations in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria, helping more than 5,000 sellers in Africa to do business online and having created over 10,000 jobs.

Yang has an even bigger goal of expanding the online shopping network across the whole continent by end of 2022.

Leveraging the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo which opened Thursday in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, Kilimall has been upgraded to Kili.co, an online expo platform for cooperation and mutual exchange, which is expected to serve nearly 500 million Chinese and African customers as well as 1 million enterprises in the next five years.

"On Kili.co, Chinese consumers can also buy African products such as flowers and nuts, which they will receive in just two to five days," Yang said.

China has been the largest trading partner of Africa for 10 consecutive years.

In 2018, trade volume between China and Africa amounted to 204.2 billion dollars, up 20 percent year on year.

China’s direct investment to the continent has increased by 1.5 billion dollars in the first five months this year, up 20 percent year on year.

In recent years, amid growing bilateral trade and booming development of the e-commerce industry, China’s enterprises are actively tapping the African market and serving as a bridge for closer cooperation.

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba and the government of Rwanda launched Alibaba’s Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) last November to foster a more effective and efficient policy and business environment and enable small- and medium-sized enterprises to participate in cross-border e-commerce.

Despite many difficulties, including the almost zero e-commerce culture and the prevalence of traditional phones over smartphones in Africa, Ren Yuan, senior manager of Alibaba’s Global Business Group, is still optimistic.

"We are at a good age.

"TECNO Mobile, a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer, has offered high quality and cheap products, lowering the bar for smartphones in Africa, and 4G base stations built by China’s tech giant Huawei have provided stable network coverage," he said.

Charles Kayonga, Rwandan Ambassador to China, said at the expo that the country’s cooperation with Alibaba not only helped them sell products, but it also taught local people how to find the right market and how to make a living relying on themselves through various training programs.

With steady expansion, Yang’s Kilimall is however facing competition from local e-commerce platforms such as Jumia, sometimes referred to as "African Amazon".

"China’s products are widely welcomed and recognized in Africa, but many Chinese brands have no sales channels in Africa, which gives us an opportunity to cooperate in the market,", said Jumia CEO Jeremy Hodara, who last month visited Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai to meet with suppliers there.

"We hope to work with Chinese merchants to make the African market bigger and stronger," he said.


Africa’s Jumia says it focuses on African market
and co-operates with Chinese companies

By Xinhua writer Lyu Tianran KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Africa’s leading e-commerce platform Jumia has said it will be "100 percent Africa" for now and the future, and will not target markets outside Africa, due to great opportunities in the continent.

Seven years after its establishment, the Nigeria-based company has operations in 14 African countries with 1.2 billion consumers and 29 million products, hotels, restaurants, and other services listed.

.Jeremy Hodara, co-founder and co-CEO of Africa’s leading e-commerce platform Jumia | Coastweek

  There is more than 1 billion people in Africa, which will be doubled in the future, and there will be more African people on Internet than the whole U.S. population, Jeremy Hodara, Jumia’s co-founder and co-CEO told Xinhua on Monday in an interview on the sidelines of the two-day Africa CEO Forum.

"We have great opportunities ahead of us and we want to serve those consumers," said Hodara while attending the forum as a speaker of a e-commerce session.

According to him, three components are needed to be a successful e-commerce company in Africa, which are very difficult for local and international companies to combine all of them.

The first is to have right talents and right people to enable the company to know how to do e-ecommerce, he said. It also requires funds for technology, marketing and willingness to be in Africa, he added.

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Jeremy Hodara, co-founder and co-CEO of Africa’s leading e-commerce platform Jumia. XINHUA PHOTO - CYRIL NDEGEYA
Some reports called Jumia "Africa’s Alibaba." One difference Jumia has with Alibaba is its large numbers of Africa’s specificities that Alibaba doesn’t know and doesn’t have, said Hodara.

"You have a lot of little details with everything we do in how you work with sellers, consumers, partners and how you do marketing, which are all very subtle and no one can replicate in Africa outside us," he said.

Jumia signed a partnership with Chinese tech giant Xiaomi at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in Feburary, through which Jumia will open the official store of Xiaomi products on its platform and offer devices of Xiaomi exclusively in Africa.

"Xiaomi is really one of the brands that have the most understanding of what it takes to win in emerging countries.

"Their products, strategy and approach are really the right thing for Africa," said Hodara.

The Chinese company attaches importance to Africa and African consumers, instead of seeing Africa as its last market, he added.

Jumia and Xiaomi have been working together for many years, and the partnership is the realization of years of work, according to him.

Hodara also revealed the existed relationship between Jumia and Chinese companies.

Jumia works all the time with other companies in China, and has a team in China working with many Chinese companies in phones, electronics, and televisions, and help them enter and do business in Africa, he said.

In Hodara’s eyes, China’s ICT and e-commerce companies have a good understanding of e-commerce, and are really committed to being business online.

Jumia is always interested in cooperating with other Chinese companies in Africa, provided they have "keen interest in Africa and right products with Africa," he added.

About 1,500 participants, including Africa’s top CEOs, international investors, experts and high-level policy makers, are meeting in Kigali from Monday to Tuesday, discussing major topics and key challenges for Africa’s private sector.



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