The Middle East and North Africa is the fastest growing e-commerce region worldwide, showed a study published by Visa, depicting that the region witnessed a year-on-year increase of an estimated 45% [$10bn in 2011 to $15bn in 2012].
According to the study, e-commerce transactions across the region reached $15bn, a rise from the $10bn concluded the year before. Egypt came first in the entire region in e-sales in 2011 with $3.2bn while the UAE was next with $2.8bn in e-sales, the report showed.
Visa recently published the findings of an in-depth study on the growing e-commerce sector across MENA, and the report, which is the first of its kind in the region, is part of the company’s e-commerce strategy. It provides key global comparisons from different markets and a guide to benchmarking online sales performance in the world’s fastest growing region for e-commerce.
“E-commerce is one of the key drivers for the economy in today’s closely connected global environment. With a large young, technologically savvy population alongside modern telecommunications infrastructure, Egypt and the MENA region have unprecedented potential when it comes to capturing the global e-commerce market share,” said Tarek Elhousseiny, General Manager for Visa North and Francophone Africa.
“The great appetite we see for consumer and business spending online will demand the necessary infrastructure and a safe and reliable platform where businesses, banks and individuals can engage in online transactions. VisaNet ensures confidence through its many security benefits and is making it easier to capitalize on the convenience of paying online with cards,” he said.
Egypt currently has an internet penetration rate of over 35% and this is expected to grow by 40% annually, the Visa study showed. With actual computer penetration being higher in the business community, the study suggests that there is a tremendous business-to-business potential for e-commerce in the country. Furthermore, Global Intelligence Alliance, a market intelligence company, named Egypt (22) one of the “Top 30 Emerging Markets for 2012-2017” alongside regional neighbours Saudi Arabia (18), UAE (21) and Pakistan (29).
Traditionally, a lack of available information and market data has prevented businesses and the government from effectively evaluating the potential for e-commerce growth and development in the region. Visa commissioned the report as a tool in helping build awareness of e-commerce potential by assessing the retail spending and internet usage trends in 18 different countries across the MENA region.
The report is available to businesses and the government to help them understand the significant trends in the region and plan their e-commerce strategies – an important area of focus as internet usage in the region has grown by a staggering 1,500% since 2000, up from a mere 1.2m users in 2000 to a massive 18.7m in 2010.