The great competitive equalizer for US small business is the emergence of cross-border ecommerce as a viable channel to increase US exports. Businesses of all sizes are redirecting resources to move online in order meet this growing demand or in many cases, as an effort of basic business survival.
From the U.S. Field counseling perspective, ecommerce is a sales channel that a client will use to sell and grow its brand awareness and is an integral part of a business’ digital sales strategy. Continual internal training of Global Markets employees through the CLC on a digital strategy counseling method supports the counseling efforts currently underway, which primarily includes broad business digital strategy counseling along with a Website Globalization Review service (WGR), a service designed to serve as an analysis of a company’s web effectiveness and ability to acquire online consumers globally.
There is ecommerce-specific market research purchased by the U.S. Field-based office eCommerce Innovation Lab. Contact James.Bledsoe@trade.gov to see what ecommerce research reports are available for your market to use as a resource in this CCG.
According to a 2021 report published by the Global System for Mobile communication Association (GSMA) and the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Gabon is a leader in electronic commerce in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) zone. Gabon is number one with 38.3 percent of the population prepared for online shopping.
Gabon is on the top list of African countries when it comes to internet speed, with reliable and relatively inexpensive service. E-commerce is still in its infancy in Gabon, as the country lacks the ICT and online payment infrastructures necessary to boost such sector. According to Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 report, 17 percent of Gabon’s population purchases products/services on the internet or pays for their transactions online, while only 5.9 percent of the population has a credit card. Data from the B2C e-commerce index of the UN Conference on Trade and Development estimate that only 6 percent of the population shops online. However, the index ranks Gabon 104th out of 151 countries and 12th in the African continent for its readiness and capacity to support online commerce. Among the factors that hinder the growth of e-commerce in Gabon are logistics problems (due to the country’s regional location and poor infrastructure, especially outside bigger towns), a lack of confidence when purchasing online, and the low penetration of online payment methods. In fact, almost all online transactions are paid with cash on delivery, with a smaller share consisting of pick-up and payment in a showroom or physical shop. The main online and mobile payment services are those related to mobile phones, like Airtel Money, BICIG Mobile and Mobicash, and BGFI Mobile Payment.
Among the main online platforms in the country are:
The number of internet users in Gabon increased by 33,000 (+2.3 percent) between 2021 and 2022. There were 1.43 million internet users in Gabon in January 2022 with an internet penetration rate of 62.0 percent.