Low Internet connectivity hampers online businesses

An African-based online market platform with operations in Rwanda is narrowing its target to automated vendors as it seeks to cut costs and boost efficiency.

Kaymu, which links online buyers and sellers, has recorded a 4 per cent increase in clients monthly. It has, however, it said lack of Internet access in some areas affects its operations.

“There are still areas faced with difficulty in Internet access, so it becomes very difficult training a vendor,” said Alvin Katto (below), the Rwanda country manager for Kaymu.

Initially, the platform’s focus was on attracting more buyers, but lack of Internet penetration has placed hurdles, according to Mr Katto.

Mr Katto said only majority of urban residents access the service because of inadequate Internet connectivity.

“Many have not yet discovered the potential in the platform and so haven’t yet embraced it,” he said.

Mr Katto contends that even with a period of close to two years in operation, most people have not embraced the platform.

“In Rwanda, people have not embraced e-commerce platforms and mechanisms unlike other countries, so we still have a lot to do as far as sensitisation is concerned,” he said.

Lauren Russels, the founder of Get It Rwanda, an e-commerce company dealing with ordering and delivery of products cites a similar problem.

“E-commerce is still new in Rwanda, which is one of the major challenges in growth of these businesses, its hard to find experienced and qualified personnel to run operations,” she said.

Partnership with universities

The company, which is still operational in Kigali is embarking on sensitisation roles through partnering with various universities in Rwanda.

Though Rwanda is striving towards attaining a stronger Internet system by the year 2020, low internet penetration is a problem that has continued to slow down online businesses and platforms.

The country’s Internet penetration stood at 28.6 per cent as of this year’s second quarter data released by the Ministry of Youth and ICT.

After two years in operation, Kaymu recently began charging commissions on its products in September.

“We have seen an increase in revenues at 10 per cent since then, which is promising,” Mr Katto said.

Kaymu recently introduced Black Fridays, a promotional sale day which has for many years been embraced from America to boost sales. To increase sales, online businesses have embarked on home delivery of purchased goods and other customer care services.

SOURCE: THE EAST AFRICAN