I am a fan of Amazon.com because Amazon works. I see how Amazon simplifies commerce through superior distribution system and efficient pricing mechanism. Amazon makes freelancers business people and supports people to earn income for things they enjoy doing on their spare time. Writers, craft-people and indeed anyone can find an opportunity to monetize a skill via the Amazon ecosystem.
(I have chosen Amazon because so far it is the only digital company that enters an emerging nation with loads of cash. In India, it is going with $5 billion. Contrast that with others that only come with enough money for sales offices.)
But I have not even thought about this particular experience captured by a Tekedia commenter:
… Africa and Nigeria in particular needs Amazon. Its not only in connecting small businesses with buyers, the Internet space will also thrive. Think about lots of bloggers like me that are struggling. On my website, I recommend books but I can’t find a good affiliate program to sell and earn commission on those books.
There are bloggers that writes about phones, laptops, fashion, ceramics, arts, but they are not thriving because they cannot really make money from what they do.
With Amazon and it’s Affiliate Program, a lot of value will be created both for the original sellers and the people writing about them.
Yes, Amazon can unlock value in the blogging community. The Amazon we have today is the spending Amazon, we need to have the making-money Amazon where Nigerians can operate shops on Amazon and make money. I have noted many ways Amazon will support and improve the African economy if it makes here with the same bravado it unleashes in U.S.
Amazon, if it comes to Africa, will invest in logistics which small businesses can use to improve e-commerce. Amazon will become the modern postal systems in Africa. In Nigeria, where none practically exists, Amazon will build one, for itself as first customer, and then open it up to enterprises to use in order to support its business. Most of the Amazon fulfillment centers in America are used by Amazon sellers. Africa needs that.
Amazon, if its makes it into Africa, will bring efficiency in the food delivery system. It will invest in preservation and storage of food, making sure that waste is reduced. Amazon is vertically and horizontally integrated and understands the meatspace more than any of the present operating peers in Africa. It will find a way to source local food items in local farms and will touch the lives of farmers. The vision of Whole Foods will be the one for Africa.
A content creator, unlike Facebook, Google and others that aggregate and feed on others, Amazon will invest in local contents for Amazon. You will see it build up Amazon Prime Africa with local contents that will give jobs to artistes and others. Instead of asking you to do it, Amazon will do it with you, providing the money.
Amazon will massively put money in local carpenters, apparel makers, etc to make sure they can produce enough to meet the demand in its ecosystem. It will lend money as it does in U.S. to those doing well.
Above all, Amazon will make sure that Africa intra-trade works. We rarely trade among ourselves because our trade routes are still linked to the colonial masters that built them. Amazon will provide a digital trade route that will decouple us from those colonial routes and offer a true emancipation.
The question is this – who can get Amazon, an evolving important company in the 21st century with increasing deflationary power in the U.S. economy to think Africa. It is the real deal because of its mantra of big and bold vision. Amazon may even build new airports across African cities to make sure its businesses work. Sure, you may say Amazon will dominate but the good news is that with its ecosystem business, it can only succeed when the locals are succeeding. That is why it is different.
I see a future, if Amazon makes it into Africa, for Amazon Africa virtual wallet to become the single African currency, because if everyone trades on Amazon, we can simply use its wallet to settle obligations across borders. This will work because Amazon is both a meatspace and cyberspace business, unlike any other.
The Aba Shoe Industry
Today, I want to note that Amazon will solve the Aba Shoe sector mess. We have not been able to grow that sector for decades. Amazon could help to unlock it, by taking it global. The same can be said of the leather industry in Kano, arts in Osogho, and other crafts across the nation. Specifically, these are some things Amazon can do to fix Aba shoe industry mess:
- Support some shoe designers and get them to produce under a unique label. You can call it the Amazon NG label
- Amazon will provide a shared infrastructure at scale to make it easier for makers and designers to have access to tools and equipment they need to design and make shoes
- If Amazon NG controls some of the brand rights, it will support the shoe makers to expand capacity in production. The firm will invest to boost capacity for the designers so that they can produce more shoes and leather materials
- Amazon will help the shoe makers improve quality so that the shoes can be sold internationally
- Amazon will lead a globally structured advertising, using the Aba Innovations (Aba needs a city brand which has to be nurtured)
- Amazon is international with experience in the luxury and non-luxury leather materials. It will market the shoes globally
- Amazon will hire global anchors that can help make the message of Aba Innovations powerful around the world.
As I noted earlier this week that Amazon has a global ambition. Nigeria can be part of that global expansion plan: we have the population and we love to shop. Now is the time for the Nigerian government to send a letter of invitation to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, and tell him that we are waiting for the firm. Jeff may consider that request and make it to Nigeria. Amazon is as important as Shell, Mobil, and GE in the future Nigerian economy, if not more catalytic. Now that we are transitioning our economy, through diversification out of minerals and hydrocarbon, to a knowledge-based one, Amazon can play a critical role through commerce.
Yes, Amazon will unlock the value in ecommerce and make multitudes of merchants in Nigeria by fixing the weakest link we have today in ecommerce: logistics. Nigeria has no strategy to fix this weak point, and without the resolution through a functioning postal service, the promise of ecommerce will not be possible. A company with capacity can support our ecommerce with capital and take our merchants global. Amazon has that pedigree.
---Visit our Store for my books, cases, frameworks and more. Now, enjoy our consolidated subscription for all contents (past, present and future).
-- We offer Advisory Services (tech, strategy & Africa).