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Nairobi-based Pesapal forecasts East African ecommerce basket values will increase by as much as 18% in the next two years.

Retailers such as grocers and department stores are driving the uptake of digital payments in East Africa. Buyers in the region prefer to pay online instead of using physical debit or credit cards, according to payments provider Pesapal Ltd.

The typical ecommerce basket in East Africa is about 5,242 Kenyan shillings ($36), while a basket settled using a point-of-sale terminal averages 5,117 shillings (about $35), according to Agosta Liko, founder and group chief executive officer of Nairobi-based Pesapal.

The company forecasts East Africa ecommerce basket values will increase by as much as 18% in the next two years.

“It will be driven by growing acceptance among customers and by retailers diversifying to digital products,” Liko said in response to emailed questions.

Africa ecommerce growth

A report by McKinsey & Co. published in September projects East Africa’s payments market, primarily in Kenya and Uganda, to grow at 20% annually until 2025. West Africa, including Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast, is the fastest-growing sub-region at 35%. On the continent, the industry is forecast to reach $40 billion by 2025. That would be up from $16 billion in 2020, according to the management consulting giant.


Other ecommerce payment drivers in East Africa are the travel and hospitality industry, telecommunications companies, utilities and government services, Liko said.

“Public policy continues to enable innovation and even drive adoption through e-government initiatives,” Liko said. “Ecommerce is still fragmented, but COVID-19 kicked this forward by a decade.”

The payments platform began operations in 2009. It offers services to more than 50,000 businesses and people in:

  • Kenya
  • Rwanda
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

Pesapal partners with platforms including Apple Pay, Fitbit Pay and Google Pay, telecommunications companies such as Airtel Africa Plc, MTN Group Ltd., Safaricom Plc, and Tigo by Millicom International Cellular, to enable payments both online or at a physical point-of-sale.

Africa is the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, and with integration of innovations such as QR codes and near-field communication in phones, changes in its payments landscape are likely to accelerate, Liko said.

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