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An ambitious project, funded by the World Bank, is developing an e-commerce platform with the goal of reaching 300,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the country.

The project, which brings several organizations into collaboration, has contracted Africom Technologies, an Ethiopian IT solutions provider, to build the new national e-commerce platform.

“E-commerce holds immense untapped potential in Ethiopia,” said Baheru Zeynu, CEO of Africom Technologies. “This collaboration between government and private actors creates a unique opportunity to unlock this potential nationwide.”

The platform will create a domestic and international digital marketplace specifically for SMEs by providing a robust online platform.

Development for the platform officially kicks off tomorrow, May 29, 2024. With a construction timeframe of one year, the platform is expected to be fully operational by the designated launch date, and over 40 developers will contribute to the development process, according to Baheru.

The contract was officially signed two weeks prior. The agreement involves Ethiopian Enterprise Development (EED) under the Ministry of Industry, and Ethiopost, the national postal service along with a joint venture between Africom Technologies PLC and CSM Technologies.

Africom Technologies will take the lead in developing the platform, while CSM Technologies, an Indian IT solutions company with over 25 years of experience, will support the process by leveraging its expertise in over 100 cities and 1600 international projects.

“We believe this platform will be a real game-changer,” Baheru added. “With the combined strengths of our stakeholders and Ethiopost’s logistics services, it has the potential to significantly impact the lives of SMEs.”

Shega was unable to find the budget allocated to the development of the platform. But the e-commerce platform is part of a larger $300 million finance project dubbed the Ethiopia Small and Medium Enterprises Finance Project, which aims to increase access to finance for SMEs.

E-commerce is a significant focus area in the project, which plans to leverage the potential of e-commerce to broaden access to markets for SMEs in Ethiopia. It recognizes the importance of digital economy diagnostics, indicating that digital financial services and e-commerce have a high potential to create direct and indirect jobs in Ethiopia.

Born in Ethiopia’s dial-up era, Africom has grown alongside the nation’s burgeoning tech scene. From humble website creation to BPO services for international clients, Africom now offers a suite of solutions for government and foreign companies.

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Etenat holds a degree in Journalism and her master's in Public Relations. Previously, she served as a university lecturer and has five years of experience in communications, media, digital marketing, and consulting.