This is in reference to your story published last week titled: How Murara turned grocery shopping into a cash cow.
This is an inspiring story indeed. I wish to add my voice to this story by adding a key ICT factor that holds the future of enterprises. This is e-commerce. Rwanda has invested heavily in ICT infrastructure including fiber optic and 4G LTE, a data center, mobile telephony system, E-signature infrastructure etc. The key pieces are in place to revolutionize the way business is done in the country. However a missing piece in e-commerce is street naming system. Sometime ago, this project was initiated by Kigali City but somehow appeared to have stopped. However, even with the street and road naming system roll-out so far, it’s far more easier to direct people to your home using the street address.
Street naming is crucial to e-commerce and for grocewheels and others it’s indispensable. Map the addresses out, and delivery is literally a click away. However, this will work in urban areas in Rwanda and secondary cities urban planners should also consider this in the planning process. A question now arises as to what happens in the rural areas? Some areas are remote and given the hilly terrain in Rwanda, one can imagine the delivery nightmare of products bought through e-commerce sites. I would propose that the postal services in Rwanda fill this gap. A quote from iposita website summarizes this well ...As e-commerce grows, Posts are positioning themselves as the delivery service of choice for goods ordered online. There is no question that Posts remain important facilitators of national and international trade in this constantly evolving world.
From trained staff, to a good postal system and 19 post offices throughout Rwanda, Iposita infrastructure is ripe to be utilized for e-commerce in the country. Let’s not forget it can also be used for deliveries when ordering from international websites like e-bay and Amazon. It is also worth noting that now that Rwanda has an ICT law, postal services are now liberalized and open to companies providing the much needed services in the era of e-commerce. I look to the day (hopefully in the near future) when we will order goods online from Kwa Ndoli supermarket and Simba supermarket websites from the comfort of our homes (an example of local supermarket stores taking an edge over the regional competitions)
I wish also to point out the disappointing lack of local e-commerce websites in the country.
Although it’s good to have Jumia (a Nigerian owned ecommerce) website, there are still key gaps that can be filled by local entrepreneurs in this area.
In summary, e-commerce is the next frontier in trade and unless more established businesses embrace it quickly, they risk to be quickly overtaken by newer and more aggressive start-ups that have embraced the power of internet to do business.
Concerned Kigali resident