Electronic commerce or e-commerce, as it is better known, is one of such opportunities fostered by the rapid growth of digital and communication technology globally. E-commerce is the buying and selling of goods and services, or the transmitting of funds or data, over an electronic network, primarily the internet.
These business transactions occur either as business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-consumer or consumer-to-business. The terms e-commerce and e-business are often used interchangeably. It has proven to be a vibrant source of economic growth in developed countries in America, Europe, and parts of Asia since the turn of the 21st century, e-commerce is also now witnessing rapid growth in Nigeria and some other African countries including Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa.
The emergence of e-commerce has greatly changed the traditional method of shopping. Buying and selling of goods and services can now be done online anytime. While goods are delivered with either in-house or partner courier service providers, electronic products like eBooks, videos, and audios are delivered electronically. And this is at affordable and competitive prices, sometimes cheaper than offline prices.
E-Commerce in Africa is currently growing at 25.8% rate. Against the rest of the world’s 16.8%: this growth rate makes the continent the fastest growing e-commerce market in the world. Business Day recently reported that the current market opportunity for electronic commerce in Nigeria is over N255 billion annually. The market is equally growing at the rapid rate of 25 percent per year. In Nigeria, e-commerce has been growing even faster. More Nigerians are embracing e-commerce as their preferred platform for buying and selling goods and services.
E-Commerce has started contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy. It is creating jobs for the country’s over 20 million unemployed youths, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Though the actual jobs created are just over 12,000 jobs since 2012.The ICT industry directly contributed 10.44 per cent to Nigeria’s 2013 Gross Domestic Product (GDP). ICT’s contributions to other sectors of the economy is also increasing. If more Nigerians have access to the internet, that could positively impact on the e-commerce market.
Although not without its challenges, e-commerce has brought a relative level of ease in ways businesses are conducted and has opened up a wider range of opportunities. With about 60 million Nigerians connected to the internet and record of 300,000 online orders every 24 hours in Nigeria, it is obvious that e-commerce has come to stay in Nigeria.