Egypt flag Egypt: Buying and Selling

E-commerce in Egypt


Internet access
Egypt is the third most populated country in Africa with its 99.3 million inhabitants and has recorded a tremendous growth in internet penetration rates in recent years. The number of internet users rose to 49.2 million at the end of 2017 (Internet World Stats), accounting for 50% of the population. While this rate stays above the African average (35.2%), it stays below the global average (54.4%). Nonetheless, this marks a 41-percent increase compared to January 2017 (14 million new users in 12 months). Furthermore, this increase allowed Egypt to have the second highest number of internet users in Africa, behind Nigeria (98.4 million) and ahead of Kenya (43.3 million). Smartphone penetration rose to 30.4% in 2017 with nearly 29 million devices (Newzoo Global Market Report). As far as search engines are concerned, Google dominates the industry with 96.68% market share, followed by Yahoo at 2.33 (Statcounter).
E-commerce market
The Egyptian e-commerce market is booming and set to be the largest in Africa thanks to a large population and rapidly increasing internet penetration rates. As a country at a crossroads between the Arab world and Africa, both pan-Arab and pan-African e-commerce websites are popular in Egypt. As such, the local edition of the Pan-Arab general retailer Souq is among the most popular websites in the country as is the Pan-African general retailer Jumia. Lynks and Eshtereely, which enjoy growing market shares, work as intermediary websites, handling the delivery of products that are ordered through international marketplaces, including Amazon and eBay. International online sales events that are adapted to the local context (i.e. White Friday, based on Black Friday sales event, and Mobile Week) have allowed major retailers to boost their sales in recent years. In 2017, the Egyptian B2C e-commerce turnover grew by 22%, reaching US$ 5 billion. However, e-commerce only accounts for 0.4% of retail sales in the country, according to a report by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Regarding e-commerce readiness, Egypt fares badly on UNCTAD B2C E-Commerce Index 2017, ranking 116th worldwide. The Egyptian government partnered with UNCTAD in 2017 to develop a new strategy that aims at increasing the current share of e-commerce in GDP to 2.32%, and doubling the number of businesses selling online (currently about 14,725) by 2020. 17% of large firms and 3% of SMEs sell online at the moment according to latest estimates of the Egyptian government.
E-commerce sales and customers
Egyptian e-commerce is growing rapidly, but it is far from reaching its potential of becoming the largest online market in Africa and the Middle East, given its large population. The number of online shoppers is also increasing steadily, from 15.2 million to 17.7 million, between 2015 and 2016, however it is also far from reaching maturity considering the total population of the country. In fact, there is a significant difference between the urban and rural population's access to online marketplaces (70% of online shoppers are in urban areas). Internet users aged under 30 are the most active online shoppers, accounting for half of consumers. Mobile phones were by far the most popular product among online shoppers in 2017 (61%), followed by laptops (37%) and clothes (34%). Cash on delivery remains by far the most popular payment method, as in most other Arab countries, accounting for 70% of all purchases, followed by credit cards (16% of purchases). There is a low number of credit and debit card holders in the country, around 10 million people, which is one of the main challenges e-commerce faces in the Egyptian market. Still, 67% of consumers state they would be willing to switch to online payments if they knew it was secure, according to PayFort. Egyptian consumers are rather frequent online shoppers. According to a Hootsuite survey (2018), 40% of Internet users searched online for a product or service to buy, whereas 35% of them visited an online store and 22% ended up purchasing online in the last 30 days.
Social media
Egyptian internet users are increasingly active on social media; however, social media penetration rates are far from reaching maturity. 39 million Egyptians are active social media users (40% of the total population), of which 35 million also access their accounts via mobile (36% of total) (Hootsuite 2018). These figures mark a 11% increase since January 2017, so there were 4 million new social media users in the country during that period. While social media penetration rate remains somewhat low, Egyptian internet users that have social media accounts spend a considerable amount on these platforms. An average Internet user spends 3 hours and 9 minutes each day on social media, and 8 hours and 10 minutes in total online. Egyptian internet users are the most active on Facebook, which has 39 million users in the country. YouTube is the second most used social media, with 34 million users, followed by Instagram, which has nearly 10 million users in the country (10% of the population). Twitter and Snapchat are far less popular in Egypt than in the GCC countries, with 10.9 million and 4 million users, respectively (Hootsuite 2018).

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Latest Update: April 2023

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