As the internet revolution has swept the world e-commerce has grown right along with it. The success of companies like E-Bay and Amazon has proven the point that the Internet can be and is an important and effective tool for business. So the question is asked, can e-commerce bring the same benefits to Ghanaians that it has brought other, larger nations?
For the avoidance of doubt E-Commerce, in this piece, is simply the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks.
Most Ghanaians acquainted with technology will be able to easily describe the benefits e-commerce can bring us. For example, all Ghanaians know how popular our sculptures, beads, paintings and cloth are to the foreigners who visit us. E-commerce can provide some significant help to our artisans and artists by allowing them to set up online stores showcasing their wares. This will enable our talented artists to take advantage of larger international markets to showcase and sell their wares. It’s sad to see our talented artisans’ abilities going to waste on roadsides waiting for the random foreigner when they can access a worldwide market with the click of a mouse.
E-Commerce would not only be beneficial for external trade but internally as well. E-Commerce would be a quick and easy way to connect producers and suppliers all over the country such as in other cities in the country with consumers in the comfort of their homes.
So why is E-Commerce not already up and running in Ghana? Though there are many problems in many different areas we will focus on one main problem area: the lack of the necessary infrastructure in the country to support E-Commerce. The two critical issues here are: online payments and shipping.
● Shipping. No E-Commerce system can succeed without a trusted and reliable shipping service. People won’t be bothered to buy online if they cannot be assured that it will be delivered exactly to their homes on time. The problems here arise from both the public and private sector. The government needs to improve our road infrastructure and labeling to allow directions to any place to be quickly and clearly given and utilized. The private sector as well must be encouraged to set up direct shipping and courier services which will underpin e-commerce services.
● Payments. One of the main barriers to the implementation of E-Commerce in Ghana is the lack of a safe and secure online payments system. The rise of financial malpractices commonly referred to as ‘sakawa’ have created a lot of mistrust in fellow Ghanaians as well as in the international community of online payments originating from West Africa (as our credit card blacklisting attests to). A safe, secure and reliable system of online payments needs to be created which will buttress and enable e-commerce to succeed in Ghana. DreamOval itself has created and is operating an online payment service known as iWallet (www.iwallet.com.gh) and it is services like these that will be necessary to allow us reap the benefits of e-commerce.
What’s been said here is certainly not all that can be said about E-Commerce, but it’s hoped that Ghanaians will read this and make the necessary changes and build the necessary structures to allow us to access and enjoy E-Commerce and thereby continue to push this, our beloved country, into the First World.
Executive, Product Evangelism and Social Media Relations
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