West Africa: Newly Launched e-Commerce Platform Seeks to Link SMEs to West African Market

Nairobi — Small and Medium Enterprises in Africa are set to benefit from a newly launched E-commerce trading platform aimed at promoting intra-Africa trade.

Ancestral House Eastern Africa online trading platform which has its offices in Abuja, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya is aimed at enabling traders to access East and West African markets.

This new platform will offer services such as business matchmaking, market research, logistics, consumer trends, and behaviors.

Ose Imoukhuede, the chairman, of Ancestral House Eastern Africa said the firm is primarily aimed at boosting connectivity in Africa by encouraging export and imports from within.

"The biggest challenge most SMEs in the continent face is that they cannot easily export goods within the continent, but they can easily export and import goods from other continents despite the Intra Africa trade potential being over USD 1 billion annually," he said.

Shreyas Patel, the partner, on his part, noted that the idea of establishing a trade house structure recognizes the dislocations in Africa which is mainly caused by lack of market information, cultural indifferences, and other trade barriers.

"There are a number of challenges facing the SMEs sector in the continent ranging from lack of market information, inexperienced exporters/importers, poor logistics infrastructure, inefficient cross-border payment systems/infrastructure, cultural differences, gaps, trust deficit, and varied Competitive landscape. We want to be the one-stop solution for all these problems and enable them scale up their businesses."

The launch comes at the wake of a vibrant African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across all 55 member States of the African Union.

SMEs account for around 80 percent of the region's businesses and mostly usually struggle to penetrate more advanced overseas markets. However, with AFCFTA, the SMEs are well positioned to tap into regional export destinations and can use regional markets as stepping stones for expanding into overseas markets at a later point.

Africa's large and fast-growing youth population is considered one of its greatest assets, with a central role to play in shaping the development of the continent. Yet, young Africans face numerous challenges that affect their livelihoods and make it difficult for them to thrive.

A new International Trade Centre (ITC) report, Opportunities for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship: Understanding the African Continental Free Trade Area, explores how youth stand to benefit from the creation of a single market and promotion of key sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture and services.

Africa is the youngest continent in the world, with a median age of 19.8 years and 65% of the population under age 25. A third of all youth are expected to live in Africa by 2050.

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