Microsoft 4Afrika and Skrill Launch eCommerce Portal

banner-6Microsoft 4Afrika, the tech giants initiative aimed at accelerating economic development in Africa, and online payments firm Skrill have launched an eCommerce portal that will enable consumers to access free educational content, use Microsoft software and use mobile wallets to buy from global internet brands.

The portal will be integrated with a number of mobile network operators across the continent, and was announced at the 17th annual AfricaCom conference.

“Africa is urbanising faster than any other continent, with cities enjoying strong levels of wireless and data coverage,” said Nilesh Pandya, senior vice president of emerging markets at Skrill. “It has the worlds most youthful populations and we know that it is the younger generations that are often the first to embrace technology. Disposable incomes are rapidly increasing, making discretionary spend on eCommerce an immediate reality. These conditions deliver the perfect storm for a massive surge in consumer demand for digital payments.”

The portal will give consumers access to exclusive product offers and discounts on goods and services from their mobile provider, as well as free access to One Drive, Outlook email addresses, educational content and business tools.

The functionality provided by Skrill will enable users to make payments instantly and securely using a mobile wallet. Video on demand, social gaming and music streaming are among the services that Skrills global network of merchants provides.

The news of the portal comes as figures show that mobile data services are on the rise in Africa, with total mobile subscriptions increasing by 9.8 per cent year-on-year in 2013, compared to a global growth rate of 6.3 per cent. By the end of Q2 2014, African mobile subscriptions were at 851m, and are expected to cross the 1bn mark in 2016, according to technology research firm Ovum.

The growth in mobile broadband connections is also huge, with numbers expected to rise from 96m in 2013 to 950m in 2019, driven by the rollout of mobile broadband networks and the increasing affordability of smartphones.

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