EXCLUSIVE: Naspers/MIH Internet Africa Plans Huge Investment Into Nigeria’s E-Commerce Space

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MIH Internet Africa, a subsidiary of South African media group, Naspers is said to be in talks to either acquire or invest into one of Nigeria’s leading e-commerce sites, a reliable source has revealed to TechLoy.

The yet-to-be-confirmed news comes just about a year since the company closed down its e-commerce offering, Kalahari in Kenya and Nigeria, citing poor performances and inability to reach profitability within a short-term period.

Although the company has since refocused its efforts on other businesses within the region, such as Dealfish (now OLX), an online classified service and Mocality, its online and mobile business directory service, we’ve exclusively reported here on TechLoy that it will soon launch a new price comparison site in Nigeria.

Just when most people may have thought that the Internet powerhouse had finally thrown in the towel on having a stake in integrated e-commerce offerings in the Nigerian market, our sources say that its involvement is likely to be an investment, not an acquisition.

Whatever the case, we think that the company’s recent renewed interest in the country’s e-commerce space could be linked to the recent activities from the leading e-commerce players, many thanks to a looming e-commerce war between foreign-owned e-commerce service, Jumia Nigeria and local player, Konga which has been disrupting the space with its less than 24-hour delivery service.

Interestingly, both e-commerce companies are backed by Swedish VC Firm, Kinnevik and have recently been linked with possible merger talks, according to another source.

One of our sources hinted that Konga, believed to have a better understanding of the lay of the land, could be the most likely investment or acquisition target, although when we contacted its founder, Sim Shagaya, he wouldn’t comment on or confirm any acquisition or investment talks with MIH Internet Africa.

We couldn’t also reach officials at Naspers and MIH Internet Africa for their comment, but if all these rumours are anything to go by, it could spell great things for the players, the space and the consumers at large.

For MIH Internet Africa, it would mean that it now has a potentially strong and viable local e-commerce offering in Nigeria with strong leadership, local knowledge and expertise as well as the capability of potentially expanding its footprints within sub-Saharan Africa and eventually reaching profitability within a reasonable time-frame.

For the e-commerce service it may be acquiring or investing into, it would leverage on MIH Internet Africa’s clout and pedigree within the Internet space to help create a solid local e-commerce brand with potentials to expand to other cities and countries within the region and even with the capability of making 24-hour deliveries.

The news, if confirmed, could be a strong indication that the local e-commerce space has huge growth and investment potentials and may just be one of the hottest Internet spaces to keep a closer eye on in 2013.



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