In the comfort of his home, Mr John Doe attempts to place an order but he hits a brick wall. He calls his daughter to assist him and under his watchful eyes, she places the order within seconds. The order is confirmed and delivered! Mr Doe is wowed because he has learnt how to buy or purchase items seamlessly online. From the scenario, Mr John Doe clearly represents the digital immigrants while his daughter connotes the digital natives.

In this rapidly changing world, the digital immigrants (this mostly applies to individuals who were born before the spread of the digital technology and who were not exposed to it at an early age) are more likely to be left behind by the digital natives. Only a few digital immigrants with the desire to embrace the digital and technology trends can move from being referred to as ‘immigrant’ to ‘native’

Now, who are the digital natives? Digital natives are generally born after the 1980s and they are comfortable in the digital age because they grew up using technology. This resulted in the use of labels such as ‘digital native’, ‘the net generation’, ‘Google generation’ or ‘the millennials’. These are defining the lives of young people at the age of new technologies.

The digital gap needs to be closed to ensure that nobody is left hanging.

Is there actually a digital gap?

There are different types of digital gaps especially in Nigeria and Africa at large. There is the gap between urban and rural areas, the gap between the rich and the poor, the gap between the digital natives and digital immigrants. Until this divide is closed and shrank, economic prosperity or growth will be farfetched.

How eCommerce is bridging the Gap Between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants

The eCommerce space in Nigeria is expected to contribute a whopping $13 billion to the Nigerian economy by the end of 2018 and the eCommerce market value could rise to $50billion (N15.45 trillion) over the next decade. Clearly, the largest chunk of that contribution will come from Jumia since it has proved over the years to be Nigeria’s no. 1 shopping destination.

Although, research reveals that more than half of the Nigerian population are under 30 years of age, which means that there are more digital natives in Nigeria; the digital immigrants are not isolated.

The undeniable fact is that the digital natives easily welcome technological changes with little or no qualms. So, you do not have to be surprised when you talk about eCommerce, the digital immigrants may either be sceptical or unenthusiastic.

This was before Jumia made a triumphant entry into the Nigerian economic space in 2012. Their arrival revolutionised business in the country as everyone wanted to imitate and replicate the Jumia model.

It also triggered the consciousness of the digital immigrants that they can actually be part of the digital economy of Nigeria; thanks to Jumia. The digital immigrants working in tandem with the digital natives replicated the Jumia model and they can now proudly call themselves business owners.

Regardless of the aforementioned, Jumia still dominates the Nigerian eCommerce space and 6 years down the line, it has moved on to becoming an ecosystem where you can literally book or buy anything.

Another way eCommerce is bridging the digital gap is by offering affordable internet-enabled phones to Nigerians. For example, the digital natives prefer to use internet-savvy phones while the digital immigrants are happy with phones that only receive and make calls. This gap needs to be closed so that both parties can enjoy internet on-the-go. According to the Jumia Mobile Report, the prices of smartphones dropped from US$216 in 2014 to US$100 in 2017. This is definitely why almost everyone you see today, notwithstanding their divide, is using a smartphone.

Meanwhile, in a handful of Nigerian homes, many digital immigrants can now purchase items online. Thanks to the digital natives who are now savvy at buying things online via Jumia. They can easily teach their parents who are likely to be digital immigrants the comfort and convenience of ordering their items online that even when they are not around, the digital immigrants can easily order their items without any difficulty.


Musa Suleiman
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