Of Ghana, Cross Border Commerce and a BIG WIN for the BlackStars

In sitting in a café in Accra celebrating the big win and the World Cup qualifying round win for the BlackStar Football team. This is one of a number of fantastic meetings and interactions I have had with the Ghanaian people.

This country has shown me that the vision we have for GDC is accurate and worth pursuit. Ghana has a strong and growing populace of middle class earners for a West African nation. While many people here have smart phones and have access to the internet, what they don’t have is standard e-commerce infrastructure.

While driving through the crowded neighborhood of Le Bonne last evening we had a discussion around the challenges of e-commerce here. A colleague made it clear that the issue is she cannot have items shipped to her home nor can she arrange payment for an item purchased online. It seems in Ghana they have the same problems internally as e-retailers would externally.

Part of the challenge in solving this complex problem is the lack of a standard address system for the country. Additionally, many of the people receive mail via a postal box or private courier. Additionally western payment platforms are not recognized within the country. This means even if fulfillment were in place the complex payment issues create another barrier.

During my discussions I was able to document two examples of how difficult it is to engage in cross border commerce. The primary way of getting products into Ghana from other countries is by asking a friend or family member to purchase and bring back items when they travel abroad. The amount of infrastructure the government has put in place to try and monitor this at the country’s main airport is incredible. If you actually use international post then a package can take up to six weeks and is typically damaged during transit.

All of this is inefficient and prevents the growth of bi-directional commerce. Where there is a problem, there is an Opportunity. At GDC we seek to provide the best local source for Cross Border Commerce Delivery, Identity and Payment solutions. We license from local country providers with the knowledge and understanding of the local data environment and who can provide solid solutions for their respect markets.

Delivery and Payment two key problems to be solved in order to move e-commerce forward in this country with a growing middle class, significant natural resources and a stable government.

P.S. – The McKinsey Global Institute published a report this week about e-commerce in Africa: Lions go digital: The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa. According to their projections the Internet could account for $300 billion of Africa’s GDP by 2025. They also use the term “iGDP” to highlight economic activity related to the digital world.

Lion male at Etosha National Park, By Yathin S Krishnappa, via Wikimedia Commons