E-commerce in Africa :Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Ivory Coast

Published : Monday 18 April 2016 - Alain DUCASS, main author; Jean-Marc KWADJANE, secondary author


At a time of globalisation, knowledge-driven and immaterial economies, a reflection on regional integration must necessarily take into account the on-going computerization phenomenon. The digitalisation of contemporary societies and economies is a major transformation. This phenomenon can be compared with industrialisation, is a historical process occurring over a long period and aiming at the automatic processing of any type of information. This transformation is too important to let countries alone carry out strategic actions and ensure governance at the national level. According to IPEMED, it requires a global Euro-Mediterranean policy to create a common digital space, a “.med”.

This is one of the main recommendations of the report “Steps towards a .med space. Trust in the Mediterranean digital society” published in 2012 by Laurent Gille, Wahiba Hammaoui and Pierre Musso. It also recommended “the development of an industrial strategy encouraging the development of contents (software and programmes) and services linked to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and supporting young engineers via start-ups and incubators”.

Indeed, this Euro-Mediterranean policy must be developed in view of coproduction, which implies sharing added value, working in a sector logic and developing - especially in the South - contents (software and programmes) and high added-value activities enabling to employ the skilled, and even high-skilled, workforce of these countries with high unemployment rates.

Following this idea, Rachid Jankari drew up a second report in 2014 called “Information technologies in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Towards a Euro-Maghreb ICT industry?”. It proposes a better understanding of the reality of the digital sector in North Africa.

The report shows that, even though efforts must be made to make ICT more accessible and in spite of the weaknesses of public policies, the three North African countries have the minimum assets (national strategies, technological zones, skills, national champions, etc.) to take advantage of the digital revolution and use it to enhance the economic emergence of their countries. They must intensify their efforts to shift from digital consumption towards content and high added-value activities production.

Report on e-commerce

In 2015, the Institute chose to focus on e-commerce, on-line commerce and m-commerce, a developing sector in the South featuring great potential to reinforce the weak South-South and North-South economic exchanges and to create skilled employment. We can also reflect on coproduction and sectors by studying the current and future conditions necessary to the development of this industry. Besides, by making the connection with the sector’s realities in two Sub-Saharan countries, it highlights the emergence of a great global region Africa-Mediterranean-Europe, called La Verticale. This is a first in IPEMED’s reflections.

This report, although not intended to be exhaustive given the broad subject and studied countries, aims at better understanding the e-commerce sector in the selected countries and at identifying current or potential regional integration dynamics.

It offers a significant amount of information on this merging sector as well as a comparative analysis of four countries, opening up to other regions in the world. The report concludes by presenting ten recommendations for a harmonious social and economic development of the sector as well as a better regional integration. The recommendations cover each of the ten key elements hindering e-commerce:

  • Promoting an e-commerce satisfactory to African people
  • Developing the production of local contents adapted to e-commerce
  • Developing consumer’s protection and education
  • Making e-commerce accessible to all
  • Developing payment services inspired from the best practices
  • Developing reliable logistics and distribution
  • Fighting cybercrime to build confidence
  • Adopting adapted public policies
  • Creating an International Observatory of E-commerce
  • Mobilising non-governmental organisations


Table of contents

  •  Reflection carried out by IPEMED
  • Summary
  • Methodological note

 E-commerce in Africa

 1       The case of Morocco

  •  E-commerce
  • Potential levers and obstacles to development
  • Strengths and weaknesses

 2       The case of Tunisia

  • E-commerce in Tunisia
  •  Potential levers and obstacles to development
  •  Strengths and weaknesses

 3       The case of Senegal

  • E-commerce in Senegal
  •  Potential levers and obstacles to development
  •  Strengths and weaknesses

 4       The case of Ivory Coast

  •  E-commerce in Ivory Coast
  •  Potential levers and obstacles to development
  • Strengths and weaknesses


Comparative analysis and interregional synergies

 1       E-commerce regional dynamics in the world

  • Specificities of e-commerce by continent
  • Cross-border e-commerce with Africa

 2       Potential complementarities and synergies among the studied countries

  •  Synergies of public policies
  •  Economic synergies
  • Digital synergies
  •  Logistic synergies
  • Financial synergies
  • Synergies in terms of e-commerc

 3       Contribution of e-commerce to economic and social developmen

  •  Local e-commerce
  • Informal commerce

 4       Strengths and weaknesses of e-commerce in Africa

 Recommendations for a better regional integration

  •  Illustrations table of contents
  • Appendixes



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