Cote d’Ivoire - eCommerceCote d’Ivoire - eCommerce
Côte d’Ivoire‘s relatively good telecommunications infrastructure and growing Internet market have laid the groundwork for the further development of e-commerce.
Over the last three years, the number of computers connected to the Internet has substantially increased, and this increase is expected to accelerate. The Ministry of Telecommunications estimates in 2015 that 37.45% of the population has access to the internet, which is a sharp increase from the estimated 5% in 2013. Mobile phone internet accounts for much of this growth. More recent anecdotal evidence indicates that Internet penetration has continued to climb sharply. The use of VOIP for international calls (first in call centers and now in homes and businesses) has also increased tremendously. No special restrictions on this service have been imposed.
Banks also have started implementation of telephone, Internet and SMS banking, in addition to ATM service. Two cell phone service providers, Orange and MTN, have partnered with banks to give customers the ability to make small payments, money transfers and utility bill payments over mobile phones. In 2008, MTN acquired AFNET (an internet service provider) and Arobase Telecom (a telecom company with a fiber-optic network), to allow for greater integration of services. The cell phone firm Moov partners with the post office to transfer money through the postal service network. The government granted 3G licenses in 2012, and an undersea cable project (African Coast Europe-ACE) by France Telecom will extend broadband internet access and the provision of multi-play services with the convergence of land line, internet and mobile. The government’s plan to build 7,000 km of fiber optic to promote a wide coverage of access to telecommunication services, is ongoing. Thus far, 2,000 km of fiber optic has been installed. According to data from the National Telecom Regulator, ARTCI, the estimated cellular penetration rate was 97.5% in 2014 and 99.5% in 2015. In August 2006, the West Africa Central Bank, Banque Centrale des Etats de l‘Afrique de l‘Ouest (BCEAO), established an inter-bank automated payment system to reduce delays in bank settlement operations. The relative newness of the electronic payment system has helped promote swift e-commerce though credit cards are still rarely used in Côte d‘Ivoire. In 2014, MTN teamed up with the online retail shopping, Jumia (www.jumia.ci) to offer a comprehensive service to users both online and on mobile service. For years, Côte d’Ivoire was banned from access to PayPal (due to fraud risks). This sanction was lifted in June 2014 but in practice, the access is limited to only buying and sending money. At present, more than ten online retail shopping websites have opened and usage by Ivoirians is increasing.
Côte d’Ivoire remains a regional hub for e-Commerce as well. In Abidjan, WAEMU headquartered its Interbank Electronic Banking Group (Groupement Interbancaire Monétique_GIM-UEMOA), and Côte d’Ivoire accounts for over 40% of its activity. It is standardizing many operations, such as e-payment and internet payment of taxes and utility bills (www.gim-uemoa.org).
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