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Africa, Malawi in particular has had slight growth in internet penetration and the use of smartphones, along with the enhancement of the security of online payments. This in turn has established a strong basis for e-commerce development in the country.  The internet is not only increasingly available, and cheaper but also increasingly used by Malawians. In addition to the internet, many of the building blocks required for the growth of e-commerce, including the spread of mobile telephones and mobile money services, increased use of credit cards, and increased access to bank accounts, have shown remarkable growth in recent years. In 2019, 15.5% of the population had access to internet services, and since then the introduction of cheaper internet services has seen an increase in internet users, as shown in 2020 the number increased to 17.8%, this was before the covid pandemic. Due to the pandemic, and the pursuant lockdowns most organizations started working virtually, which created a need for cheaper internet services. In early 2022, the mobile providers and internet service providers introduced cheaper internet data plans which increased the number of internet users to 20.2%, in actual numbers the increase has been from 639,000 in 2019 to 4,030,000 in 2022, as per research done by Simon Kemp an independent data analyst.

Not only have we seen a rise in internet users but we have also seen more Malawians creating social media accounts. With that being said, we have seen an increase in the use of the internet to buy and sell goods through these platforms. Most notably there has been an increase of buy and sell groups on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, which are not as secure as eCommerce platforms. The introduction of secure eCommerce platforms would in turn increase consumer participation because they trust the system. The advantages of trading online are countless, but most notably; are convenience, choice, and control for the consumer and for the seller; it’s easier to track stock, tracking cash flow is easier, and they can reach more customers.

Even though eCommerce is a growing market, some challenges stand in the way of growth. Most of these are logistical. For instance, there is no proper address system which complicates the delivery system. The road conditions are less than ideal for deliveries in some areas of the cities, which makes deliveries impossible or delays them, resulting in a loss of revenue.

Unstable internet connections and an overall lack of trust in internet payment are other impediments to the growth of Ecommerce in Malawi. Malawi’s internet penetration rate stands below 21%, meaning that less than a fifth of the country has internet access. For those who do, the absence of consumer protection makes it difficult for consumers to pay in any way besides ‘cash on delivery.’ Additionally, only 22.9% percent of those living in Malawi have a bank account in 2022, as per research done by the World Bank. As a result, 83% percent of online purchases are paid in cash. This is the main reason why social media platforms have a higher rate of trade than eCommerce platforms in Malawi.

In short Ecommerce, can open a new door in the cash flow of the economy as consumers will not be limited to the locale for their shopping needs. Not only is eCommerce a form of increasing cash flow within the respective communities as trade is happening, but it is also a form of job creation. Overall, e-commerce can positively impact Malawi’s economy The increase in internet access and the upgrading of road networks are helping increase Malawi’s standard of living. In turn, these changes are creating new opportunities for those living in Malawi.

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