Online Store Reports Surge in Orders | 20 January, 2015 | Kampala, Uganda

There was spike in the number of Ugandans making online orders during the festive season, online store Jumia Uganda has said. Speaking to The Observer recently, Jumia Country Director Justin Christianson, said they received more than 1,500 orders every week between November and December. "For now, the orders have dropped to about 1,000 a week, but we are happy that e-commerce has continued to grow," Christianson said.

For the nine months the site has been up, Christianson said, more than 6,000 merchant owners have had their goods listed. "Ugandan market is inefficient with a lot of middlemen," Christianson said, adding: "What online trade does is remove the middleman [in order for] buyers [to] access the same product at a fairly cheaper price."

He said the store now had more than 60,000 listed products on its site. IT consultant Michael Niyitegeka told The Observer recently that one of the key highlights in 2015 would be the growth of e-commerce, with stores such as Jumia, Jumia, OLX and Hello Food taking centre stage. "Someone in office will not have to go to a restaurant to eat. They will order on the phone and have the food delivered. Supermarkets, insurance firms, and other businesses will become more prominent on online platforms, including social media," Niyitegeka said.

While there are surges in orders, there are still fewer Ugandans who have access to the internet. Out of the 34.9 million Ugandans, less than 10 million can access internet. And many of those who have access to internet are not making online transactions yet. Christianson is optimistic internet usage is going to peak this year and that "with more sensitization, Ugandans will get familiar with online business." "It is still a new concept here," he said.

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) says that as of June 2014, the number of Ugandans with access to the internet had reached 8.5 million, up from 6.4 million in June the previous year. Christianson said they was planning to introduce the pre-payment option through mobile money. Jumia is a sister firm of Jumia and Hellofood Uganda. It is jointly owned by telecom giant MTN, a German-based firm Rocket Internet, Millicom, and the Africa Internet group.

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