Sim Shagaya
As was recently reported in the news, I have taken up the new position of Chairman of the Board for

We looked ahead into 2016 and beyond, and saw the challenges coming with the slower Nigerian economy, given the drop in the price of oil and other commodities, and the expected “knock on” effect for consumer retail in the country. And I came to the realization that I had a difficult choice to make; Either continue to manage the day-to-day affairs for as CEO, or prepare the company for the implications of the coming 4th Industrial Revolution, the slower overall economy and help identify the new opportunities that all these changes present as Chairman of the Board.

Well, given those two options the choice was easy for me to make.

The 4th Industrial Revolution and Ecommerce

The recently concluded Davos Summit in Switzerland gave attendees a glimpse into the future of business. The West is advocating a new industrial revolution, driven by new technology that will positively impact everything that we do going forward. It is called “The Internet of Things”. In the very near future, virtually all business will be driven by the Internet. From pilotless aircraft and cars, to automated healthcare diagnostics and medical prescriptions (and drug fulfillments), to even more innovative ways for consumers to purchase goods online around the world (such as bitcoin) – all; driven from the Internet and one’s smart phone.

We decided early on, that was going to lead the technology change in e-commerce in Africa and we shall continue to do so. It is clear to me that we are going to need to steer the company through this challenging time and find the opportunities that the 4th Industrial Revolution and our economy present.  As Chairman of The Board, I will lead this change.

Our New Reality

Oil as a commodity represents only 10% of our GDP. That means 90% of our GDP earnings will still be available to us as Nigerians and will be utilized to maintain a projected 3% annual growth rate in the coming year. This means that consumers will still buy and shop in the country. With the cost of goods rising due to the weaker Naira, there is still an opportunity to introduce new lower priced value item to the market via e-commerce. Consumers can make their money go further on our platform as we offer competitively priced goods and products.

The Opportunity

Our technology sector in Nigeria is still very strong and recent platform upgrades by the Telco’s to 4G bodes well for new opportunities to bring a better more engaging interactive shopping experience to consumers online. In addition, the proliferation of smartphone technology will give rise to an increasing number of curious, but technology-wary shoppers who we will convince to use our service for the very first time.

Starting this year, our customers are going to experience faster speeds and newer technology innovation services designed to enhance the overall online shopping experience.

We will introduce more ways to pay for your online purchases and, we are working to improve logistics and delivery times of our ordered goods to consumers.

We’ve also set a goal for ourselves to explain to the general public what the online shopping experience is all about, for those who are not too familiar or comfortable with online shopping in the country. Our research tells us that a significant number of potential consumers are curious, but hesitant about the entire shopping experience, and are yet to take the plunge and experience the ease and convenience of online shopping first hand.

Concerns about online security show up as a major concern as well for consumers. We will make it a priority to explain as many times as needed, what is myth and what is fact, about online shopping and how to enhance their security to protect themselves. E-commerce is here to stay.

The future is now

This year in Africa we will see the first remote cargo airport open in Rwanda. The new warehouse and airport facility will allow for the provisioning of pilotless drone aircraft to take off and make deliveries to consumers across the country.

Now, to be fair, we can’t promise that this will happen in Nigeria anytime soon, but you can bet that we are taking a closer look at this possibility and paying close attention to what happens over there. Once the bugs are worked out of the system we will be among the first to bring them to you. As Chairman of the Board, I can preside over the making of these new innovative services without compromising our day-to-day activities.

We are bullish on the future of Nigeria, e-commerce and of course Here’s to a great year ahead for all of us.

Sim Shagaya Author

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