Tanzania flag Tanzania: Buying and Selling

E-commerce in Tanzania


Internet access
The number of Internet users in Tanzania is estimated at around 8.44 million,which is for 15% of the total population (Internet World Survey). This is behind average in the region and on the whole continent; respectively 27% and 35.2%. Also, Internet's penetration rate in the country is slow compared to the rest of the continent, standing at 11% between 2017 and 2018. Just like in other sub-Saharan African countries, internet is accessed mostly via mobile in Tanzania. There are 7.41 million mobile Internet users (Hootsuite Survey 2018). Mobile phones capture 85% of the web traffic, as against 14% for desktops and laptops. In regards to search engines, 96.23% of the country's internet users use Google, 1.94% use Bing and 1.33% use Yahoo (Statcounter).
E-commerce market
Though e-commerce in Tanzania is still at the embryonic development level, it has the potential to grow rapidly, especially considering the recent expansion of mobile payment methods such as m-pesa. In fact, most Tanzanians do not own credit cards (only 0.7% of the population owns a credit card according to a Hootsuite survey) and only 1% of the population buys stuff or pay bills online. Tanzanians are traditionally wary of online payment (94% of online shoppers choose cash on delivery as the method of payment according to data from Jumia) and prefer having the free return option. Lack of proper delivery adresses and trust in sellers has also hampered the growth of e-commerce.
Actors present in this sector in the country include Pan-African online marketplace Jumia, which has been operational in Tanzania for several years, competing with local players such as OLX, Zudua and ShopOnline Tanzania.
Social media
The number of social media users is significantly smaller than the total number of Internet users in Tanzania. Indeed, there are 4.90 million social media users in the country (8% of the total population according to the 2018 Hootsuite Survey). The figure puts Tanzania slightly above the average social media penetration rate in East Africa (7%). Unlike in most African countries, the number of total social media users declined by 2% between 2017 and 2018. Nevertheless, the number of social media users on mobile, 4.3 million people, grew by 2% during the same period. Almost all social media users have a Facebook account, nonetheless with a considerable gender imbalance: 62% of Tanzanian Facebook profiles are declared as male compared to 38% as female. The number of Instagram users is estimated to be around 2.1 million, accounting for 4% of the total population. Instagram also displays the same gender imbalance as Facebook. Unlike the case in most other East African nations, WhatsApp is the most popular messenger application used in Tanzania.

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Latest Update: May 2024