E-business In East Africa

By Angelo Shyaka

The commercial opportunities made available by an expanding regional website are almost without limit. The pace of change is rapid and so is the ferocity of any commercial transaction.  Thus to succeed, firms need agility, an open mind and the ability to re-invent themselves repeatedly. Most of all they need to be sensitive to the needs and requirements of their clients. Such qualities would be valuable in any kind of business. Yet, for online firms, they are not a luxury, but a necessity for mere survival.  

This is true for a variety of reasons; the Internet is not only rapidly growing, but also changing equally as rapidly, which, in turn, changes the rules of engagement for any business which relies on it. The behavior of consumers, on the other hand, is constantly changing as well. Consumers are discovering new ways to shop and interact via the web, therefore making products and services available anywhere in the world. 

It would be right to say, therefore, that no online business could have existed without the Internet or could have grown to where it presently is.  The adaptation to ICT within Rwanda, in line with contributing to the realization of the vision 2020 ICT goal, set under the integrated socio-economic and ICT policy and strategies for accelerated development, has provided a platform for the growth of the sector, which will be looked into in greater detail. 

The growth in Internet usage, which was at only 20 million users not so long ago, has more than tripled to register close to a billion users worldwide. But to flourish, most of the online firms have had to repackage their businesses over time. For example, eBay is no longer solely an auctioneer; Google has become more than a search engine, while Yahoo! is adding yet more services to its web portal. Amazon sells a lot more than books, and both firms now offer auctions. New features and strategies are being embraced as these firms compete and opportunities for new entrepreneurs with ICT acumen flourish in the e-commerce sector, particularly in emerging economies. 

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Ebusiness in East Africa: Meet the Innovators

African Kiosk The African Kiosk is an IT firm, originally established to provide electronic based transactions and services that meet the increasing demand of East Africans living within and outside of the Diaspora, in purchasing and delivery of on-line procured products and gifts globally. The company’s services presently cater to clientele in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, with a view to expanding outside of the region.  

Since its inception in March 2004, African Kiosk has exhibited growth, and, in response to consumer demand, set up a sister website, Exchange Africa (www.exchangeafrica.com), to offer services such as online auctions, online shopping and trade of products that enable the shoppers who visit the site to have a variety to chose from and avoid the inconvenience of having to drive to shopping destinations. The site also encourages entrepreneurial growth through having “hobby traders” and “Net heads” placing their products online in a bid to look for markets among the network of shoppers who visit these sites. A similar site, SenteServices (www.senteservices.com ), has also been developed for potential buyers and sellers of commodities who wish to transact using offshore bankcards. This service will be available to consumers who purchase the card from SenteServices for online shopping, who also have access to cash withdrawals from any VISA operated ATM machine worldwide. 

With this growth, the African Kiosk is re-inventing itself and is embarking on promotion of home grown products which are in a position to compete on even terms with those presently regarded as some of the best on the market; e.g. Rwanda Coffee would be able to favorably compete with Brazilian coffee as a result of its added value from wash stations and coffee processing firms. Processed Rwandan coffee can also be consumed in either small or bulky quantities by online shoppers within Rwanda, the region or the Diaspora. African Kiosk has been updating its system and products to cater to the needs of present and potential clients.  

In the next edition there will be a detailed explanation of how shopping online is done and the security measures undertaken before an order is processed.

DHL RWANDA: A Forerunner in Express Delivery

Necessity is the mother of invention. Sixty years ago merchants had trouble shipping from San Francisco to Honolulu on time. Dalsey, Handy and Lane thought the quickest way to get documents from San Francisco to Honolulu would be by airplane instead of water. They also felt that if they could clear the cargo before its arrival at the harbor waiting time would reduce considerably.  Today, after decades of existence and many ground breaking innovations, the benefits of express delivery have not been exploited by many of the average Rwandans. Just imagine you had everything you need where you need to be in the exact time that you expect.  

Think that this is not limited to a birthday card or an important business document but also includes heavy machinery like engines or construction materials. You average local businessman will pay to travel thousands of miles to procure equipment, logistics or supplies and later incur heavy transportation costs back home. The shipment will usually take weeks, sometimes months.  

In this age, all this can be done on the click of mouse while you kick back and enjoy a cup of tea. Get online! Search the net for a reputable supplier, pay with your credit card (Yes, they are now available in Rwanda). Put your supplier in touch with a reputable courier company; one that spins the globe and makes very regular stopovers in Rwanda.  

With a double decade local presence and 60 percent global market share DHL meets the standards of any person in need of a credible courier service. From a single page document to tons of materials delivery, Gill Trading Company has represented the global franchise in Rwanda rather aptly. The same simple innovation Dalsey, Handy and Lane exhibited sixty years ago is brought to life in Rwanda. Combined with the technology advancements of the 21st century and fast evolving service sector, the evolution is a little too swift. 

DHL’s commitment to speed and reliability is being boosted by intensive staff training, investment in technology and communication. Through Gill Trading Company, the company offers uniquely packaged door-to-door services such as Worldwide Document, Express Documents and Worldwide Parcel Express.  

For the large scale shipper, Import Express scheme offers a simple and flexible inbound door to door shipping arrangement. All you have to do is open an Import Express Account, which takes just a few minutes.  

In Rwanda today, the DHL and Gill Trading Partnership is indeed reaping benefits of offering a seamless service. A large yet fast growing client base has made it one of the nation’s fastest growing enterprises. As though to emphasize their commitment to express delivery, the company received the distinction of being one of the most exemplary taxpayers last tax payers’ day; a clear sign that DHL’s growth is equally benefiting the Rwandan economy.