Microsoft 4Afrika in partnership with mobile network operators has declared their marketing alliance to launch a new e-commerce portal.
According to Microsoft, integrating with mobile network operators (MNOs), the portal will enable Africans to use their mobile wallets to buy from global internet brands, access free educational content and use Microsoft software.
The portal will be fully live by December 2014, Mr Nilesh Pandya, SVP of emerging markets at MNO 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 spending 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.”
By logging into the portal, consumers are also given access to special product offers and discounts on goods and services exclusively available through this purchase route and their mobile provider.
E-commerce transactions do not incur any additional cost for the consumer and specific fees charged to merchants, relating to this market have been determined by MNO to reflect the opportunity for growth, tempered with the challenges inherent in a new market.
Partnering with merchants can ensure that products and services are available in some of the fastest growing markets in the world.
Microsoft One Drive will enable consumers to store up to 15G online free of charge.
Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative is 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, added: “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. “
According to a World Bank study, in low- and middle-income countries every 10% increase in broadband penetration, accelerates economic growth by 1.38%.