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E-commerce is biggest channel to unleash thriving SMEs – Heymans


Hennie Heymans

The future of Africa revolves round her ability to take the rightful place in the global economic stage, especially through thriving small and medium enterprises (SMEs), said Hennie Heymans, managing director, DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa.

E-commerce seems, at the moment, the biggest conduit to get that engine moving, Heymans said while speaking to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek recently.

Recall, business leaders and policymakers gathered at the UNCTAD E-Commerce Week from 24-28 April 2017 in Geneva, said that that e-commerce provides a way for those who have been traditionally marginalized in international trade – including young people, women, rural workers and residents of least developed countries – to become global players.


Heymans descried Nigeria as a very attractive market in the e-commerce space hence DHL has positioned its apparatus to assist the country harness the e-Commerce potentials.

He said that with 91.2 million internet users as at in January 2017 based on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC’s) statistics, and inherent shortfall of physical malls, the country stands to gain from e-commerce.He said that the most intriguing part of e-commerce is reaching out to people who want to buy something, delivered on time and without damages.

“For us, it presents many exciting opportunities. These opportunities are not just from commercial perspective but particularly for Africa which is a developing Continent and economies. E-commerce provides us with, probably, a fast-track to developing the economies. We have seen the impact of decline in the commodity pricing. What is the future of Africa?

“The future of Africa revolves round its ability to take the rightful place in the global stage. Secondly, Africa needs to get the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) engine going. E-commerce seems, at the moment, the biggest conduit to get that engine moving. So, it presents us with great opportunities to grow our business”, Heymans said.

The CEO DHL Sub-Saharan African stressed the need for idea sharing between the Government and critical stakeholders to ensure international best practices are adopted.

“It is also an opportunity for us to engage the authorities and stakeholders and say ‘how can we use our global experience to help you prepare better and quicker to sure we are ready for that boom’. If you look at the statistics at the moment, Africa makes about 2% of the global e-commerce gains; forecast shows it should make about 13%. The statistics presents great opportunity.


“Look at Nigeria: it records about Nigeria internet users stand at 91.2 million in January 2017. It offers the country great window to improve on essential aspects of it development. Our role is to connect economies and improve lives. Therefore, we will make sure we are ready for innovations in the e-commerce space. We have done it in the European market and it currently driving our business. We are excited about the new challenge and prepared to handle it.

“Nigeria is a very attractive market. The country has the largest black race population. Shortage of physical malls is also a plus for the e-commerce. The most intriguing part of e-commerce is reaching out to people who want to buy something. Therefore, we are working on our business model to reflect the yawning of present day market”, he said.

He further aligned with the International Trade Centre (ITC) position on the benefits of e-Commerce such as it allows for a larger variety of exports in terms of products and markets.

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