E-commerce takes shape in Rwanda with new service centre
Rwanda’s e-commerce booms as the first E-commerce Service Centre sets up in Kigali, bringing Rwandan businesses to domestic and international markets with minimal investment and risk
A new multi-purpose facility that will be central to supporting the development of e-commerce in Rwanda has been developed by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and local partners.
At its current stage, the hub in Kigali -- known as the E-commerce Service Centre (ECSC) -- is the host facility of an all-in-one e-commerce solution, including consignment and shipment, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, capacity-building programmes for employees, and client support.
‘The ECSC will have a central role to play in making e-commerce accessible to all in Rwanda,’ ITC Project Manager Sebastian Ioannitis-McColl said. ‘By making e-commerce user-friendly, local businesses can serve new markets locally and internationally, and find solutions to payment, transportation and customer services.’
By consolidating products in one place, and linking local and international transporters to its network, the ECSC is able to propose competitive pricing and service for goods delivery and will eventually help Rwandan companies operate in the e-commerce space within and beyond the borders the east African nation.
Business partners such as Sawa Citi – a well-known Rwandan supermarket chain, and the Rwanda Post Office (IPOSITA), ensure the ECSC’s day-to-day operations and are considering expanding its services beyond Kigali. With the help of Botswana-based logistics technology firm, Load Africa, IPOSITA will implement crowd logistic solutions that involve freelance and professional transporters for inter-provincial shipping.
Small and medium-sized enterprises receive a variety of supporting services from within the ECSC. Incoming goods will go through quality assurance, categorization and digitization for online sales before being stocked; assistance with writing product descriptions is also available.
‘Working with ITC has allowed us to bring an understanding of e-commerce to our staff,’ Patrick Safari, Director of Commercial Department of IPOSITA, said. ‘Together with the project team, we have been able to focus on practical skills that will help us support this new channel.’
Underpinning the ECSC’s efficient operation is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system developed by ITC with software engineers in Rwanda and India. The ERP is an IT tool that handles consignment, shipment, transportation, accounting and customer service all at once to ensure successful e-commerce.
‘The ECSC demonstrates Rwanda’s intention to be a leader in digitizing Africa,’ Theo Kubwimana, Sawa Citi Chief Executive Officer, said.
‘We have hired staff who can to e-commerce operations and we expect the ECSC to be a driver of economic opportunity that will increasingly offer jobs directly and indirectly to support the growth of the digital economy in Rwanda, and beyond.’