Industry Update
Opinion Article14 March 2017

Challenges facing Africa’s digital marketing

By Josephine Wawira, Consultant at Jumia Travel

share this article
1 minComments

The African market has drastically revolutionized in the recent past, and 2017 is projected to experience colossal digital conversion. Organizations, corporations, and businesses both established and startups have grabbed the growth opportunities presented by online digital marketing; brought about by a change in basic assumptions of consumer habits.


The mobile ecosystem has been identified as a leading contributor to the growth of Africa's economy according to a data shot by Infinite Potentials, a professional services consulting firm. The report further states that mobile technologies and services generated approximately US$ 152 billion of economic value in Africa in 2015. This is expected to increase by about 41% by 2020 to US$ 215 billion.

More effective, and economical; are among the numerous advantages digital marketing has over offline marketing. Yet, it is crucial especially for small, medium, and micro-enterprises in Africa to identify some of the challenges they are likely to encounter while implementing their digital marketing strategies.

One, Africa is still considered an emerging market, with the rate of internet penetration still quite low as compared to her Western counterparts. Internet World Stats estimates a 26.9% internet penetration rate in Africa, contributing to only 9.1% of the world users. This means that most customers are still offline, and thus the percentage of online reach would still be less if a company is to entirely depend on online marketing. This can be a cause for instability when putting in place marketing approaches.

Secondly, misconceptions can arise driven by cultural backgrounds and consumer disposition. The World-Wide-Web consists a diverse reach, making it sometimes challenging to identify the exact target audience for a product or service being marketed online. Point to note is that the audience in a Western country is not at all like the one in Africa, and the variation is also evident from one African country to another.

While more brands continue to enhance their online engagement with customers, there appears the issue of reputation management. Current day, an angry customer is most likely to post his/her disgruntlement online, a fact that can highly damage a brand reputation. Moreover, online reviews have become the trend, with approximately 90% of people's purchase decisions being influenced by online reviews (source: Dimensional Research, 2013). Additionally, (BrightLocal, 2014) states that 92% of people are likely to not do business with companies whose stars are less than four out of five. In this case, online reputation management becomes key in ensuring positive interaction and brand repute.

Last but not the least, your social media presence is an important aspect in any digital marketing strategy. With a high rate of interaction and demanding audience, giving immediate and timely response to enquiries online maybe a challenge; especially for a startup that is yet to establish itself on the online ecosystem. This should not however cause a big scare, as a team of skilled social media managers should be able to control your brand's social media presence with acumen.

Josephine Wawira

    More from Josephine Wawira
    Latest News