Factors Influencing the Use of E-Commerce by Small Enterprises in Nigeria

Factors Influencing the Use of E-Commerce by Small Enterprises in Nigeria

Ignatius Ekanem (Business School, Middlesex University, London, UK) and Gbolahan Emeka Abiade (Business School, Middlesex University, London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTRAME.2018010103


The aim of this article is to assess the factors influencing the use of e-commerce by small enterprises in Nigeria. The study adopts a qualitative methodology which involves in-depth, semi-structured interviews and direct observation in order to derive answers to such questions as ‘why' the system is adopted and ‘how' the Nigeria economic conditions influence the system. The article suggests that the main factors which motivate the adoption of e-commerce by small businesses in Nigeria are market expansion and reduced market costs. The findings also indicate that increasing access to the Internet and changing lifestyle enable the success of e-commerce in Nigeria. The implications of the study are discussed.
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The Internet is one of the most powerful discoveries ever made (Shek et al., 2013). As an agent of globalisation, the internet has made the world much smaller than before, bringing people closer in spite of distance, making communication easier, improving healthcare, education and access to information (UNESCO 2009). Shek et al. (2013) estimates the number of internet users worldwide to be about 5billion. Africa and other developing countries have not been left behind in this growing phenomenon as internet connectivity has become increasingly popular in recent years (Moriarty et al., 2011). This is a far cry from the early 90s when access to telephones was non-existent and the internet was still foreign to majority of Africans and other developing countries (Moriarty et al., 2011).

Over the past decade, internet users in Africa are increasing 9 times faster than in Europe and 20 times faster than in North America (Nielson 2010). As at June 2012, African internet users were estimated to be around 1.1 billion which is 7 percent of the world’s internet users (UNESCO 2009). Nielson (2010) suggests that over 110million people living in the continent regularly use the Internet, with an estimate of 10 million new users every year. This shows that despite low incomes and limited telecom infrastructure, Africans have embraced the concept of the internet fully (Hattingh et al., 2012). Though most Africans and other third world countries cannot afford a PC or laptop, the increasing popularity of smartphones has provided an avenue for them to connect to the internet and keep up with activities around the world (Shek et al., 2013).

Research indicates that the majority of internet users in the world are in the developing continents such as Asia and Africa and that around 60% of people in Africa’s major cities connect to the internet regularly (Hattingh et al., 2012). In the past decade, mobile-cellular subscriptions in the developing countries have increased nearly tenfold (WTO, 2013; Ekekwe, 2015). However, a more accurate assessment of internet usage is internet usage per capita as reported below by World Bank Group, 2016.

Table 1.
Internet users per 100 people (World Bank Group, 2016)
High Income countries72.776.981
East Asia and Pacific37.344.249.8
Latin America and Caribbean39.346.254.5
Middle East and North Africa27.734.743.7
Sub-Saharan Africa12.117.122.4

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