Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia’s markets led the growth of e-commerce in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 2020, with a total value of $22 billion, according to a white paper on the e-commerce in MENA launched by Wamda on Wednesday.
The three countries together account for 80 percent of the MENA’s overall e-commerce market, according to the paper.
For Egypt, the paper said that the country has regulated e-commerce activity by virtue of Electronic Signature Law 15 of 2004, which was introduced by the Information Technology Industry Development Agency that acts as the electronic trade regulatory authority.
Moreover, as part of the country’s Vision 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS), the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology launched an ICT strategy to support the development of the sector and its contributions to economic growth through initiatives that support e-commerce, according to the paper.
These actions have set Egypt among the markets that led the boom that e-commerce has witnessed.
The paper said that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce in the region, a sector that was already on the rise prior to the pandemic.
According to the paper, online shopping accounted for just 2 percent of the retail market in the MENA prior to the pandemic, but it was gaining momentum, and by 2017 had reached a value of $8.3 billion, up from $4.2 billion recorded in 2015.
“Today, 80 percent of young Arabs shop online frequently, compared to 71 percent in 2019. Additionally, 50 percent of those aged 18-24 in MENA are shopping more online after the pandemic. As a result, e-commerce reached a value of $22 billion by the end of 2020”, said the paper.
After the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce saw an acceleration globally due to lockdown measures, as many consumers found online retail to be the only viable solution to purchase basic items while adhering to stay-at-home orders, according to the paper.
Accordingly, retail e-commerce website traffic worldwide recorded more than 21.9 billion monthly visits in June 2020 compared to 16.2 billion in June 2019.
Likewise, leading global e-commerce platform Amazon.com recorded $88.9 billion in revenue during the second quarter of 2020, a 40 percent Y-o-Y increase in net sales, according to the paper.
In the MENA region, the paper said that e-commerce witnessed a remarkable jump in demand and adoption, specifically over the first three months of the pandemic’s outbreak, as e-commerce companies had a more captive audience to appeal to during the lockdown.
The paper also cited the findings of a recent report published by Checkout.com, which showed that 47 percent of consumers in the MENA said they expect to shop online more frequently in 2021.