After M-Pesa’s huge success, Safaricom now wants to build ‘Amazon of Africa’

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore.
Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore. PHOTO/FILE
Kenya’s leading mobile operator Safaricom has announced plans to set up an e-commerce platform as it looks to tap the growing online marketplace in the country.

The platform, which will be known as Masoko (Swahili for markets) will offer a range of products ranging from food, beverages, electronics, cosmetics, and it targets formal retail and informal e-commerce.

Masoko is currently undergoing in-house tests before it goes live in March next year, Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore in a media interview.

“This offering will not be holding inventory and neither will it be an anyone-can-sell arena,” Mr Collymore said.

“Safaricom is carefully screening all the merchants before giving them access to the platform.”

The objective of the platform, according to Safaricom director of enterprise Rita Okuthe, is to become “a little more” than an African equivalent of Amazon.com’s Marketplace.

Safaricom, which is currently the world’s top mobile money provider, is hoping to build on the success of M-Pesa, which handled Sh432.5 billion worth of mobile commerce transactions in the first quarter of the year.

READ: Safaricom share price hits record high on the Nairobi bourse

The mobile money transfer platform that was launched in March 2007 enables nearly 30 million Kenyans to pay for goods and services; access credit; purchase airtime, and send cash all over the world.

Safaricom said that it will work with manufacturers and farmers seeking direct market access and better supply-chain efficiencies.

Kenya is experiencing a rapid growth of e-commerce thanks to the rising number of citizens with internet enabled smartphones.

According to the Communication Authority of Kenya, over Sh625 billion worth of mobile commerce transactions were recorded at end of March – signalling the huge potential of e-commerce in the country.