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Chinese and Sudanese employees of an Oil extraction company reading Chinese cartoons on an Oil rig in South Sudan (photo credit EAST NEWS)

This is a translation of an article written by polish Journalist Sylwia Czubkowska, who took her time and came to Nigeria to prepare her material. You can find the original here.

First it was cheap flip-flops, then payment apps. Having already taken over African trade and industry, China is now moving into telecommunications and new technology — and checking just how much they can get away with on the ‘Dark Continent’.

The greyish-brown houses of Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, are shrouded in a mixture of fumes from the interminable traffic jams and the fog rolling in from the ocean. The blood-red fortress which suddenly emerges into view makes a shocking impression. …

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This article was originally posted on (check original)

Our piece of the pie is about to get much bigger. The problem is what happens to the pie.

Let’s face it, for people freaking out the most, this Covid-19 is the first one in their adult business life. Financial Markets work in circles, and a huge correction was bound to happen anyway very soon after one of the longest bull years in history.

Cash is king now. If you have it, you can renegotiate any partnerships to your favor. If you don’t and you have to raise, get ready for your valuations to be slashed. …

I am looking at footfall data from January to March 2020 provided by in their newest report. Cosmose studied four first-tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen) and three new first-tier cities (Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Chongqing) in Mainland China, as well as Hong Kong and Macau from January 2020 to March 2020. Data was retrieved from close to a thousand shopping malls, hotels, luxury, cosmetic and beauty brands located in the mentioned cities.


  1. If the recovery trend continues at the current pace, offline retail should bounce back to the pre-pandemic level by June.
  2. Beauty recovers faster than luxury. That said, it might not translate into a faster recovery of this sector in terms of transaction value due to a lower unit…

It took Amazon 9 years to be profitable in the USA — the best market for e-commerce in the World. Jumia, operating in a region tougher by an order of magnitude, has a fair chance to do it in 10–12 years from launch. So why does it seem in the recent online publications (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) as if Jumia is a failure?

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Jumia’s recent challenges resemble Amazon’s dealings with skeptics, haters and short sellers in the 90s

“Amazon is hemorrhaging cash and might not survive. It struggles with a weak balance sheet, poor working capital management, and massive negative operating cashflow — the financial characteristics that have driven innumerable retailers to disaster through history.”

How eCommerce behaviors changed after UK and USA got used to the lockdown

I’m looking at Consumer Electronics, Groceries, Beverages, and Home and Garden in the United Kingdom and the USA. Let's see what other markets can learn from it. Data provided by SimilarWeb.

Summary: Groceries saw the biggest increase in traffic worldwide grown by 40% between January and March, home and garden were next with 35%, followed by electronics 16%, and beverages at 9%.

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Consumer electronics.

Over the last three months, around a quarter of the world’s population has gone into lockdown as a result of COVID-19. In many affected areas, governments have instructed their citizens to work from home wherever it is possible to do so. The result has been a rise in the demand for homework equipment, as people try to replicate their office space at home. The question moving forward is whether this will lead to a more permanent shift towards remote working, will offices become more accommodating and even encouraging towards their employees working from home, and what effect this will have on eCommerce players within this space. We don’t know whether certain consumer behaviors will permanently be changed as a result of COVID-19, and this is clearly one of those areas which could see long-lasting changes. …

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If watching Contagion freaked you out, then you really, really shouldn’t watch Gattaca. In this awesome movie, those with the right level of genetic purity are guaranteed dream jobs and a great standard of living. The rest, having been born with genetic defects, are pariahs living on the fringes of a society that has excluded them. As one of the main characters makes a heroic effort aimed at overcoming the limits placed on him by the system, I recommend you watch it right till the end.

So why am I mentioning this movie? Because one of the effects of the current pandemic is the idea being mooted to create a so-called “COVID pass”. Such a document would be issued to those who have been confirmed as possessing COVID-19 antibodies, meaning people who are healthy and pose no threat to others. The first consequence of this which comes to mind is the exclusion of a large group of people who, due to their social status or health circumstances, become pariahs as in the movie Gattaca. I’ve always wanted to have a second passport (I wrote about it here), I just didn’t know it’s gonna be a virus one. …

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“By the end of April, the impact of the coronavirus on the (USA) industry is expected to add up to a loss of 5.9 million jobs and $910 billion in travel-related economic output. That’s seven times the impact of 9/11.” According to the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics

If this is what the leaders of the free World are saying, then it means it’s even worse and in other markets. It’s bad, really bad. No sector has been more affected by the outbreak than the travel sector in the short term

But let’s zoom out a little and think more long term.
I mean, thinking long term is what the upcoming leaders for the probably-not-so-free World, are doing, and it seems to be working pretty well for them. …

This is a story of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, written from the perspective of a European entrepreneur, based in Lagos, Nigeria. It’s the full 12th Chapter from my book “Chasing Black Unicorns. How building the Amazon of Africa put me on Interpol Most Wanted list.”

When he came in, the whole restaurant went quiet. All you could

hear was the hum of the air conditioning and the clinking of cutlery

being slowly placed on the tables, as if everyone was trying to do

this as quietly as they could. ‘I’m not here’ was the message to be

understood from their gazing straight at the floor. …

“Let them eat brioche!”
Queen of France, wife of Louis XIV Maria Theresa, after learning that peasants have no bread to eat.

First, the West came up with Aid, which has proven to be probably the most damaging thing to the continent it has done to Africa after colonies. (If you’ve never read Dambisa Moyo’s book about this topic, stop everything that you are doing and get it now.)

I have personally witnessed a wave of copy-pasting successful online business models from the USA and Western Europe, not because the demand for them was particularly exploding, but because they were hot in the West, so there was no reason not to expand to Africa. It took a lot of mistakes, and especially hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign investors money, to realize that you might want to pay a little bit more attention to the local specifics of the market. …

Corona beer not feeling the love of corona virus
Corona beer not feeling the love of corona virus

Disclaimer: Data here is based mostly on Similar Web data from the period from December 1, 2019, to 26th March 2020, including traffic to Desktop and Mobile web originating from multiple developed countries around the globe. Considering how dynamic the situation with COVID-19 is, and how unpredictable people under lockdown are, if you are reading these couple days later, the situation might be much different. I’ll try to keep updating this piece though.

Last week was extremely important in customer behavioral change since that was the period when most countries entered the economy shut down, full lockdown, and self-quarantine period. The number of countries with more than 100 daily cases has more than doubled, from 14 to 31. In general, e-commerce is getting better. Two weeks ago we saw paranoid toilet paper buying and zombie apocalypse stocking. Last week was more of an “adjustment” period to isolation. This week starts the “backfilling” period. …


Marek Zmyslowski

Entrepreneur, Investor, Advisor, Speaker. Bestselling Author of “Chasing Black Unicorns”.

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