Berlin - Online retailer Jumia, a would-be African Amazon set up by German venture capital firm Rocket Internet, is expanding into three new markets - Uganda, Ghana and Cameroon.
Jumia, which launched in 2012, already operates in Nigeria, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Kenya, offering up to 100 000 different items for sale from its local warehouses.
The company has recently set up offices in Uganda after initially launching a service there in February that relied on deliveries from Kenya. The Ghana and Cameroon sites are set to open within the coming weeks, a spokesperson said.
"We know we're early. We are coming to markets which are not as mature in terms of internet penetration and internet savviness but still there is a big appetite for this service," said Jumia co-founder Sacha Poignonnec.
Berlin-based Rocket Internet is bidding to create the largest internet empire outside the United States and China, seeking to replicate the success of Amazon and Alibaba in markets such as Africa, Latin America and Russia.
Global consulting firm McKinsey estimates about 16% of sub-Saharan Africans, or just over 160 million people, are connected to the internet, compared to nearly 75% in Europe and 32% in Asia.
A surge in mobile internet access means that figure is expected to rise sharply in the medium term, helping African e-commerce sales reach $75bn by 2025, McKinsey predicts.
Jumia, whose main investors are mobile operators MTN and Millicom and Sweden's Kinnevik, promises to deliver products ranging from fashion to consumer electronics in one to five days, even to remote villages.
Poignonnec said there were plenty of opportunities for synergies with MTN and Millicom as they were leading telecoms players in Jumia's three new markets: "This helps to build a stronger business," he said.
Rocket Internet has already launched less investment-intensive online businesses in the new markets it is entering such as food delivery service HelloFood, real estate market place Lamudi and taxi booking app Easytaxi.