Africa and the Middle East are complex markets. There is a stark contrast between the high earning and high-worth consumer segments and the low-earning population. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, the average national income is $16,852 a year. But this conceals a much more complex picture. The least-affluent 50% of Saudi Arabians take home 7.8% of the national income. The richest 1% earn 19.7% of the national income. And the 49% of people who fall between the richest and the poorest share 72.5% of the national income. A similar pattern is repeated across the region. While income polarisation may be socially undesirable, for retailers it means that a substantial part of society that has the disposable income to spend on consumer goods.
The Local Payment Culture
The most common way to pay for online purchases in Africa and the Middle East is by card, which has a 44% market share4. Looking at the region as a whole, cash is the next most popular online payment method, with 23% of the e-commerce market. Bank transfers have 14%, and e-wallets and various other methods have an 11% and 8% share respectively.
The E-Commerce Market
The Middle Eastern and African countries covered by this research have an e-commerce market worth almost $79 billion, growing at a rate of 30% a year. In Middle Eastern markets, e-commerce accounts for around 5% of all retail purchases (varying from 0.6% in Morocco right up to 8.6% in Saudi Arabia). In Sub-Saharan Africa, 1.1% of all retail purchases are made online and 54% of those are completed on a mobile device. Most of the population people rely on tech — rather than traditional branches or face-to-face transactions — for access to financial services.
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PPRO Country Insight Egypt
The Egyptian government’s economic reform programme seems to be paying off. The country has had a tough few years. In the wake of the Arab Spring, foreign direct investment in Egypt’s non-oil economy – which peaked in 2007 – had dropped to only $600 million in Q2 20182.
PPRO Country Insight Israel
Napoleon is said to have preferred lucky generals. “I believe in luck,” he is reported to have said.“ And the wise man neglects nothing which contributes to his destiny.” The Israeli economy seems to be doing well on both fronts.
PPRO Country Insight Kenya
Kenya is something of a star performer in the African digital economy. Its online payments sector, led by mobile phone-based money transfer service M-Pesa – now in partnership with Western Union, is a sector leader and a standardbearer for the African digital revolution.
PPRO Country Insight Morocco
When Morocco hits the headlines in Europe, it’s usually because of the country’s role in the Mediterranean migration crisis. The country is a source of emigrants and on one of the main migrant routes from West Africa.