unctad.org | Small businesses in Egypt can benefit more from e-commerce, new survey shows
Small businesses in Egypt can benefit more from e-commerce, new survey shows
24 January 2017
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Just one in 10 small handicraft businesses in Egypt currently use the Internet and even fewer sell their products online. These are some of the findings of a new survey conducted by UNCTAD and Egypt's government as part of the development of a National E-commerce Strategy for Egypt.

Just one in 10 micro and small handicraft enterprises - defined as those with 10 workers or fewer - use the Internet in Egypt, according to the first-ever survey conducted jointly by UNCTAD and the Egyptian government as part of a project to develop a National E-commerce Strategy. It was also the first ever official national survey of micro-enterprises carried out in Egypt.

Among those that do use the internet to market their products, social media is by far the most popular channel, with only 2% using an online marketplace.

More than 1,000 micro enterprises within 20 handicraft sectors in all of Egypt's 26 governorates responded to the survey in the first quarter of 2016.

"These firms have the potential to be strong beneficiaries from e-commerce and to become stronger competitors in the domestic and global market through e-commerce," the director of UNCTAD's Division on Technology and Logistics, Shamika Sirimanne, said. "The survey will help the government to formulate relevant measures to enable more micro and small enterprises to unlock the potential of e-commerce."

As in many developing countries, micro and small enterprises in Egypt account for about 80% of livelihoods and employment, and are important contributors to GDP growth.

Yet just 3% of the micro and small enterprises that used the Internet had made online purchases, while only 5% had received orders online for their products.

Egyptian Handicrafts
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Furniture topped the products that are sold online, mentioned by 40% of micro and small enterprises that had made online sales.

The next most common products included clothing (28%) and fabricated metal (17%). More than 90% of the micro and small enterprises that had made online sales were paid through cash on delivery. In terms of alternative payment methods, mobile payment (9%), bank transfers (6.5%) and credit cards (3.5%) were mentioned.

The survey also found that as many as 96% of all business owners were male. Most micro-enterprises (57%) had only 1-2 employees, 29% had 3-5 employees and 13% between 6 and 10 employees.

The survey was designed and conducted through cooperation between UNCTAD's ICT Policy Review Programme and the Ministry of Communications and Information technology (MCIT) with the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

More detailed results will be presented in the National E-commerce Strategy for Egypt report, which is scheduled to be published in early 2017.

The strategy will establish short, medium and long-term targets and provide specific policy recommendations for its implementation.

The strategy has been developed on the basis of an integrated framework of policy areas of strategic importance to e-commerce development, first presented in the UNCTAD Information Economy Report 2015. It covers information and telecommunications technology infrastructure and services; logistics and trade facilitation; the legal and regulatory environment; payment solutions; skills development and e-procurement.


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