Assessment of Current Buyer Behavior in Market
Although internet connectivity is improving in Guinea, it is not yet fully reliable for trade and commercial promotion. Guinea has been connected to a submarine fiber optic cable off the coast since 2013. As costs decrease and the internet penetration rate rises, electronic commerce will likely increase commensurately. The World Bank estimates 26 percent of Guineans used the internet as of 2020. Nonetheless, completion of online sales involving physical delivery of a product to customers will still face the physical hurdles created by the poor Guinean road infrastructure, lack of addresses, and formal delivery systems. Delivery of goods from businesses to customers often requires significant coordination to ensure directions and addresses are well understood. Mobile internet access is ramping up quickly, especially through the use of “medium technology” phones capable of simple internet connections at 3G and 4G speeds. 5G technology is not likely to be implemented in Guinea in the near future.
Guinea is a cash economy. Most of Guinea’s commerce is informal, and transactions are mostly completed with cash. At present, the banking system cannot support e-commerce, nor ensure the reliability or safety of transactions completed with credit or debit cards. Although some businesses accept credit cards, more often than not, credit cards do not work outside of large hotels, upscale stores and restaurants, major grocery store chains, and the airport. Mobile phone companies are aggressively launching mobile money platforms. Most monetary amounts move via the Orange Money transfer system, as well as Mobile MTN, Western Union, Ria, Wari, and MoneyGram. ATM machines exist in Conakry but are generally uncommon.
Guinea is predominately a Muslim country, and major buying holidays follow the Islamic calendar. Eid-al-Fitr and Tabaski are major gift-giving holidays. Christmas and New Years are minor gift-giving holidays as well.
Local eCommerce Sales Rules & Regulations
The Regulatory Authority for the Post and Telecommunications (ARPT) regulates e-commerce activities under the authority of the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications, and Digital Economy. The Guinean law on e-commerce was passed on June 2016. Businesses are required to register with ARPT before commencing online sales, however this is poorly enforced, and few businesses are currently completing online sales in Guinea. Guinea hosts the regional headquarters of an African e-commerce platform, called the African Electronic Trade Group (AeTrade). The platform serves as an e-commerce service for African entrepreneurs across the continent to reduce transaction costs, improve supply chain management, enhance productivity, and increase consumer choice.
Local eCommerce Business Service Provider Ecosystem
Mobile money is a fast-growing part of the Guinean economy. Most Guineans who use mobile banking use the “Orange Money” platform, a partnership between Orange, Guinea’s largest cell carrier, and Ecobank, or the mobile banking platform owned by Guinea’s third leading cell carrier, MTN.
Digital marketing has grown significantly over the past two years, particularly over Facebook. Private companies are increasingly turning to Facebook to target Guineans with disposable income, and government ministries have begun using Facebook as a platform to communicate with the general population.
Social media is growing quickly as a standard means of communicating and interfacing with the internet. Social media use in Guinea saw an increase of 20 percent between 2021 and 2022. Overall social media penetration stands at approximately 17 percent of the population, or a total of 2.4 million users. Facebook dominates the Guinean social media market with 2.2 million users as of early 2022. Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms have much lower penetration rates in Guinea, with the total number of users in the tens or hundreds of thousands.