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China inspires Egypt to ramp up investment in e-commerce sector

06/22/2020 11:15

China's successful experience in dovetailing e-commerce, digital payments and larger national economic goals is inspiring COVID-19-stricken Egypt to emulate the business model.

Economic experts in Egypt hope that recent big investments in the field of online shopping could grow bigger to complement the economy, as in big economies like China and the United States.

"Online shopping has notably helped so many companies, stores and factories that have suffered greatly from the imposed curfew and anti-COVID-19 restrictions," said Egyptian economic expert Abu Bakr al-Deeb.

New e-commerce converts such as Randa Ibrahim, a mother of five and a discerning consumer, make Abu Bakr hopeful about the future prospects.

"I have been doing most of my grocery shopping online or by phone since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus," said Ibrahim, an Egyptian housewife in the capital Cairo, expressing concern about going out to markets and shops.

She searched the internet and asked neighbors and friends until she found online shopping platforms where she could buy foodstuff and other necessary items, amid a partial lockdown imposed in the most populous Arab country since mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"I did not expect we have that many online shopping platforms in Egypt. I will keep using online shopping even after the coronavirus crisis is over because it saves both time and effort," the 45-year-old lady said.

Ibrahim is one of many Egyptians who have become frequent visitors to online shopping websites via their smartphones or computers during the COVID-19 crisis that hit Egypt and the whole world.

Egypt announced its first confirmed COVID-19 infection on Feb 14 and the first death from the pandemic on March 8, both of whom were foreigners.

Until May 30, Egypt's total coronavirus confirmed cases reached 23,449, including 913 deaths and 5,693 recoveries.

Since Egypt has been implementing a partial nighttime curfew for more than two months now, with obligatory closure of malls and stores during curfew hours, online shopping websites have flourished and attracted new visitors in the country.

Jumia, one of the most well-known online shopping platforms in Egypt, which claims to be the country's "largest online mall store", says that its sales have increased by 50 percent during the COVID-19 crisis.

"We have made a lot of preparations to qualify Jumia to absorb the intense pressure on the website, relying on technology for online safety and protection to encourage customers to use electronic payment," Hesham Safwat, CEO of Jumia Egypt, said.

He pointed out that his platform established JumiaPay for online payment services, through which the customers can pay for the purchased items and pay the bills of electricity, gas, water, internet, landline and all other services.

"We offer special discounts for electronic payments through JumiaPay to promote non-cash transactions in order to support the government's efforts for financial inclusion and reduce the risk of virus transmission through direct cash payment," Safwat said.

Jumia observes the highest preventive measures recommended by the World Health Organization and the Egyptian Ministry of Health to ensure safe delivery of our items, said Safwat, who expects the new customers to continue using online shopping after the crisis.

Online shopping in Egypt is currently not restricted to existing websites, for many stores and shops, including small bakeries, groceries, butcher shops, vegetable and fruits shops and others, started to establish their own pages on social media websites to sell online.

"That is really amazing for us as customers! They deliver the orders for free if they are in the same neighborhood and they even make big discounts for online shoppers," said Areej Ahmed, a 34-year-old housewife.

"The good thing is that the delivery men pay attention to safety measures, as they wear face masks and gloves and avoid talking much or getting closer to customers," she said.

Egypt's current nighttime curfew, which has been reduced from 10 hours to nine hours since May 31, will continue for two weeks, and then the government will consider easing restrictions and gradually resuming several suspended activities.

The government has already started gradually reopening services and offices that have been suspended since mid-March amid a "coexistence plan" to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming services, businesses and economic activities.

"I think that the culture of online shopping in Egypt will continue even after the end of the coronavirus crisis. This area of business will witness unprecedented development and investment in the coming few years," Abu Bakr al-Deeb said.

(Source:Xinhua)

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