e-commerce soars but SA must close digital divide


SeaCom Chief Commercial Officer, Steve Briggs

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) E-COMMERCE in South Africa is projected to continue growing but the country faces the challenge of closing the digital divide.

It has more than doubled over the period from 2018 to 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has boosted demand for home deliveries, with research by World Wide Worx revealing that online retail grew from R14,1 billion (800 million Euros) in 2018 to R30,2 billion (1.9 billion Euros) in 2020.

This upward trend is set to continue, with forecasts putting online retail sales at around R42 billion by the end of 2021.

In a Mastercard survey of 1 000 South Africans, 71 percent of respondents said that they would continue to shop online post-pandemic.

Rand Merchant Bank also estimates that e-commerce will grow by 150 percent by 2025.

“It’s clear that this sector is primed to accelerate,” said Steve Briggs, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at SEACOM.

However, he noted a need to make online retail more inclusive, allowing more South Africans to participate in a growing digital economy and benefit from the time, cost, and efficiency savings that online retail can offer.

As of January 2021, 59,5 percent of the global population was connected to the internet. South Africa’s internet penetration, at 57, percent, is lower than the global average.

“It is abundantly clear that we still have a way to go to make nationwide internet access – and therefore access to e-commerce – more inclusive,” Briggs said.

In 2019, Stats SA reported that only 1,2 percent of households in rural areas had access to the internet at home.

“The digital divide is also much more worrying among South Africa’s low-income communities,” Briggs said.

SEACOM launched Africa’s first broadband submarine cable system along the continent’s Eastern and Southern coasts in 2009.

– CAJ News




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