eCommerce in the early days was started by Michael Aldrich
Michael Aldrich (22 August 1941 – 19 May 2014) was an English inventor, innovator, and entrepreneur. In 1979 he invented online shopping to enable online transaction processing between consumers and businesses, or between one business and another, a technique known later as e-commerce.
Today there are quite a number of eCommerce platforms over the world and even here in Ghana.
Quoting an article published by wopedigital.com, the first-ever eCommerce website in Ghana was eshopafrica.com. It was founded by a lovely English lady called Cordelia Salter-Nour in 1999, with the website launching officially in February of 2001.
The site dealt in products mostly manufactured in Ghana like baskets, carvings, jewelry, kente cloth, and collectibles. They received lots of international coverage, especially due to the unique and unusual coffins they displayed and sold from their website.
Whilst it’s easy to set up an eCommerce website in just about 24 hours today, everything 20 years ago was much more difficult and much more expensive.
Actinic Software Ltd. (acquired by Oxatis S.A) provided the eCommerce software for eShopAfrica.com as of 2005.
They accepted Visa and MasterCard payments via WorldPay and PayPal. Because Africa was and still is considered a high-risk location, they had to pay higher transaction charges to accept card payments. Deliveries were done in partnership with DHL.
Cordelia spoke at AITEC (African Information & Communication Technology Exhibition & Conference) in May 2003 on the topic “eCommerce in Africa – Making it Happen”
It’s a terrific overview of the eCommerce industry and the problems they faced almost two decades ago. Sadly, a lot of the problems she states are still yet to be solved.
Since then, many other eCommerce sites, have come and gone with new ones launching regularly. Past players include shopafrica53.com, afrochiconline.com, africaretail.com, tisu.com.gh, ahonya.com, and mogoogi.com.