Bringing Informal Retailers on Nigeria’s Digital Economy Train

Social Media Plug-ins:

The Nigerian Digital economy train has left the station. The journey roadmap has been drawn. Modalities are being put in place for all necessary mechanisms needed for itch-free transition.

Policies are being formulated; heavy investments are being made on infrastructure by various stakeholders. However, the journey would be futile without migrants joining the train at every available junction.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), recently said plans were in top gear for Nigeria to achieve 95% digital literacy by 2030. According to the agency, initiatives including the establishment of tech incubation centres, were in the works to ensure that the target was met.

Some industry observers have however questioned the possibility of achieving such a high target given the current economic realities in the country.

“Our market women, how do you convince them to start advertising their businesses online, to start using digital technologies to manage their products? Up till now, some of them decline when you want to pay them electronically for their products. They will say they want cash,” said the president, Nigeria Computer Society, Prof. Adesina Simon Sodiya.

The famous ‘Nigerian market women’ make up the informal retail market which is estimated at about $100 million. Having a sizable number of this market on the digital train will spice up the journey.

In the last three years, innovative business-to-business e-commerce brands like Alerzo, TradeDepot, Omnibiz have taken up the challenge of bringing these vibrant segments of the market into the growing digital community by connecting them directly with global product manufacturers through easy-to-use digital apps.

“Platforms like Alerzo are also shaping the Nigeria narrative by showcasing the attractive investment opportunities to the world, while also reaching people in rural areas and giving them access to extensive catalogue of products and logistics.

“We also facilitate development and financial inclusion through digital payment platforms. For instance, Alerzo, through AlerzoPay, is contributing to the  development of dematerialized payment solutions which are key to the success of e-commerce and an important asset for Nigeria when it comes to development prospects,” said Adewale Opaleye, Chief Executive Officer of Alerzo Limited.

B2B digital platforms enable hundreds of SMEs, mostly informal retailers across Nigeria, to run profitable and sustainable businesses, benefiting from the economics of digitization to achieve a significant increase in their activity level. This facilitates economic development in Nigeria by allowing many entrepreneurs (retailers) to embark on new innovative projects.

Internet penetration in Nigeria is fast improving, thus increasing the use of smartphones among Nigerians. With more innovative seamless digital offerings, getting more informal retailers on the digital economy train might not be difficult as it seems.