African MSME Data Use Cases
African businesses are increasingly using ecommerce to sell their goods and services and access vendors online, including across borders. In the process, they benefit from access to and the analysis of data on their customers, transactions, competitors, and markets to improve their marketing, offerings, and operations, identify high-potential customers and best-selling product categories, and anticipate demand spikes and competitors’ moves.
Firms’ access to data and data analytics capabilities is critical for the development of Africa’s ecommerce sector. It is also important for the digital transformation of traditional companies in Africa’s construction, healthcare, manufacturing, mining, farming, and multiple other sectors.
In light of the importance of data for African MSMEs, the data privacy and transfer regimes that African countries establish today will have far-reaching implications for African firms that engage in ecommerce. They also impact the prospects of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to promote MSME ecommerce.
This series seeks to support African governments in identifying pro-MSME ecommerce data privacy and transfer regimes, by examining how African firms are using data, how they benefit from data, and what they view as the optimal regulatory regimes to be able to use and secure data.
MarketForce considers itself the operating system for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) retail in Africa, enabling manufacturers, distributors, retailers, financial service providers, and sales agents to source, order, and pay for goods and services by providing financial services, including purchasing inventory, payment of commissions for services, and other point-of-sale (POS) services. MarketForce uses data extensively for internal operations and for external client services as a technology company. A key goal in using data is to attain greater visibility into customer meta-data to better understand needs and challenges across various value chains. Internally, MarketForce uses data to tailor service offerings to meet customers’ preferences, identify and address operational inefficiency, and ensure compliance with various data management regimes. Data are also used extensively to forecast demand and to provide financial services, including credit or remitting commissions.
Hibret Bank was established in 1998 as the fifth private bank in operation in Ethiopia, and has expanded rapidly throughout the country with over 385 branches and 4,700 employees today. The Bank offers a full range of financial services for companies, non-profits, and individuals in the form of both conventional banking as well as interest free banking which follows Shariah principles. Hibret Bank was a pioneer in electronic banking by offering platforms such as Hibir Mobile and Hibir Online Banking and has become known in the country for its digital banking and digital platforms. The Bank's use of data is not only necessary for the business to function (e.g., managing complex financial accounts) but is also extremely beneficial to inform business decisions. Types of data that Hibret Bank collects and stores include customer information, financial transaction information, and operations data.
Africa has a fast-growing tourism economy and is a notable destination for nature and adventure, cultural heritage, and wellness and health tourism. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, African economies are expected to have the second-highest rate of growth in travel and tourism gross domestic product (GDP) in the world for the next decade (2019–2029). Countries with the best enabling conditions to develop tourism include Mauritius, South Africa, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Kenya, Tunisia, Cape Verde, Botswana, and Tanzania. At the same time, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) found that the majority of the region’s economies were classified as low or lower-middle income, without the means to invest in tourism. One of the biggest barriers to the development of tourism has been the lack of infrastructure, such as for air and road transport and information and communications technology (ICT) adoption.