Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A new e-commerce platform has been launched to boost online trading in markers amid restrictions on movement and social distancing guidelines instituted as part of the measures to curtail transmission of coronavirus disease.
The platform, a brainchild of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Jumia Uganda will benefit vendors in Nakasero, Nakawa, Wandegeya, Bugolobi and Kalerwe. They will be given smartphones, airtime and data to implement the model while working with market agents who validate and ascertain that the goods meet the requisite quality are hygienic and securely packaged before they are dispatched.
Jumia will use its infrastructure to provide safe and contactless deliveries for the goods to customers who are currently under lockdown. The same platform is built to connect rural farmers with the urban markets, keeping the supply chain for agricultural produce active.
The lockdown measures such as restrictions on movement, stay at home guidelines have impacted business flow, cut off hundreds of informal market vendors from their usual customers affecting incomes and straining sustenance of livelihoods with many struggling to stay afloat. The lockdown also disrupted trade and affected business operations and supply chains of key sectors of the economy.
Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde is optimistic that the initiative will create convenient shopping, promote the growth of the ICT industry and usage, contribute to the decongestion and transformation of Kampala into a smart city that will be pleasant for all Ugandans, visitors and tourists. The Minister also challenged micro, small and medium enterprises (M/SMEs) to embrace the digital economy to connect businesses with a diverse customer base.
“We cannot continue to sit and wait for consumers or even customers to find us in our markets; we need to go online to enable our customers and buyers to place orders and goods and services find them in the comfort of their homes or offices. This is a new reality!”
UNDP Country Resident Representative Elsie Attafuah said that the partnership with Jumia Food will provide, “a safe, convenient and fast service to the citizens of Uganda while boosting trade.”
She added that the offer is part of UNDP’s broader effort to deploy digital solutions for business continuity through e-governance and e-commerce, as Uganda responds to the current disruptions and pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Such innovations, she noted will also support the eventual realization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACfTA) Agreement by connecting Uganda to markets in the region.
“COVID-19 presents not only a health but also a humanitarian and development crisis, that is threatening to leave deep social, economic and political scars for years. It is therefore important to build the national capacity to harness the digital economy to expand e-commerce to support supply chains to enable business continuity, support livelihoods and enable early recovery from the Pandemic,” Attafuah added.
Jumia Uganda Chief Executive Officer Ron Kawamara, said both the market vendors and the buyers will find it easy to use the Jumia Food Vendor App and will offer the consumers a convenient, “Stay Home and Shop” service.
“E-commerce digital platforms like Jumia are at the forefront of providing the informal sector and SMEs solutions to keep running and reaching customers during the COVID-19 crisis,” Kawamara commented.