Jumia: Is it Africa’s Digital success or Digital Colonization?

By Mohamed Okash

On 12 April 2019, the Largest E-commerce retailer which operates in Africa, Jumia, was listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:JMIA) with trading shares of $14.50 and initial offering of 13,500,00 ADR shares for an opening price of $13 and $16 per share. The initial Public Opening (IPO) and SEC filing of Jumia have seen huge tremendous success; the IPO is expected to raise over $200 million for internet venture. This makes Jumia the first Tech start-up from Africa listed on New York Stock Exchange.

Jumia Group was founded in Lagos, Nigeria in 2012, but incorporated in Germany and its tech team are based in Portugal while the current CEOs Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignannec are French.  The company become the first of its kind valued in $1 billion valuations from Africa. Jumia operates in about 14 African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda providing goods and services including Jumia Food, Jumia Flight, and Jumia Deals.  However, despite the fact that Jumia has thousands of active traders (Sellers), customers and staff members in Africa, there is a fascinating ongoing discussion about the Jumia’s claim about Africans.

Why Jumia is claiming a Pan-African Tech start-up? Is it because it operates in Africa? Is it because it employed thousands of Africans or its revenues are generated from the continent? These are some of the questions that shaped the discussions about Jumia for the last two weeks. The proponents of Jumia’s claim as an African argues that the company simplified and pioneered the way of doing business especially the E-commerce since it’s widely used active platform for countless African traders, and customers. Recently, Quartz Africa interviewed, Sacha Poignonnec, the Co-founder and the CEO of Jumia about its operations. Sacha insisted that their focus of African consumers make them African. “For us, it’s always been that we have put so much passion into Jumia to make it work and Jumia is serving African Consumers—that is all Jumia is doing. The only reason for Jumia to exist is to bring some value to the African Value to the African Consumers. At the end of the day, it’s really very impressive?” Said by Sacha in the interview.  This raises the question that if African business in Europe is considered as European, The fact is not! Then why that is only possible in Africa?

In conclusion, Jumia is not incorporated in Africa, no African hold shares on Jumia. This has nothing to do with Africa’s Digital success but the opposite. The CEOs of Jumia in Germany counting their revues from Africa and claiming an African with no African identity is the same idea of Berlin conference 1880s. Jumia should be clear about its identity and find a solution to their identity crisis. However, Africa needs a new revolution from its young and emerging leaders with a moral compass and pan African driven vision to rewrite and brand Africa with the right African perspective. Being Pan African is believing a set of Ideals, values and heritage, culture, and identity; therefore, it doesn’t just simply happen to be claimed as simple as Jumia did.

Scroll to Top