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E-commerce

Internet access
Data from the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) shows that as December 2017 Zambia had an internet penetration rate of 41.2% of its population.

According to the same institution, the number of mobile subscriptions reached 13.4 million, representing a penetration rate of 81.92%. The market is dominated by MTN Zambia with approximately 6 million subscribers, followed by Airtel Zambia with 5 million customers and Zamtel with just over 2.2 million. Despite an increasing access, internet connection speeds are still slow, averaging 2.3 Mbps compared to a global average of 7.2 Mbps.
While access to ICTs is steadily increasing, access in rural areas is still far too low due to the high costs of hardware and software, poor network coverage, and high levels of illiteracy.

The most popular web search engines in Zambia are Google (93.8%), Bing and Yahoo (3.8% and 1.6% respectively).
E-commerce market
E-commerce is still in its infancy in Zambia, with different growth rates for different channels and mobile commerce being by far the fastest growing. According to UNCTAD’s 2018 B2C E-commerce Index, Zambia ranks 127th out of 151 economies worldwide in terms of e-commerce, and 26th out of 44 African countries.
Nowadays, most Zambians use the internet to purchase electricity tokens and pay for digital TV and water bills. The most sold goods range from electronics to footwear, clothing, accessories, motor vehicle and their spare parts. When it comes to cross-border transactions, the top countries from where Zambians make online purchases are the USA (eBay), United Kingdom (eBay) and China (Alibaba).
However, Zambians still experience several challenges when purchasing online, like the lack of an ad hoc legislation, poor or misleading information by the service provider such as contact details, right to withdrawal, non-receipt of the item purchased, terms and conditions, costs such as customs duty, value added tax and import declaration fee.
As most of the transactions are still related to utilities rather than retail, the most commonly consumed platforms include the Zambia Revenue Authority website (used for paying domestic taxes and customs services), the National Pension Scheme Authority and the Patent and Company Registration Office. Zoona – an electronic transfer service that enables consumers to send or receive money across Zambia – is also popular. Finally, Dot Com Zambia enables users to buy online from national and foreign retailers.
The most common payment methods for online transactions in Zambia are mobile-based or through mobile banking, while credit cards are less common. Recently launched platform Paybills.co.zm allows Zambian customers to pay utility bills, television subscriptions, and buy air time using VISA or MasterCard.
Zambians are heavy social network users. Indeed, a research by ZICTA showed that in 2016 63% of the internet users in the country spend their time online on social networking sites, and the ratio is estimated to have increased in the past few years. According to data from NapoleonCat, the country currently counts 2.1 million Facebook users, while Instagram and Snapchat have less subscriptions (0.3 and 0.2 million respectively).

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Actualitzacions: April 2022

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