A war of attrition has broken out between Jumia and Konga with both retailers now set for a showdown
Both are barely two years old in Nigeria, but the cold war brewing between the nation’s foremost online retailers, Jumia and Konga, is threatening to hit the court room.
Owned by Berlin-based Rocket Internet, Jumia Nigeria opened its e-commerce operations in 2012. It has since risen to become a major player in online retail shopping in Nigeria. The company says it now controls 70 per cent of the Nigerian online retail market and has dealt with close to a million customers since it began operations.
One month after Jumia Nigeria launched, Konga.com began its operations to tap into the largely untapped Nigerian online retail shopping. The company currently describes itself as “Nigeria’s largest online mall.”
Disputed domain names
After commencing its Nigeria operations in June 2012 and just before Konga launched, Rocket Internet proceeded to register about 10 domain names related to Konga outside Nigeria, a move the Konga management said was designed to “stifle” its growth outside Nigeria.
The domain names, registered by one Arnt Jeschke on behalf of Rocket Internet, include konga.cd (Cote d’Ivoire); konga.cm (Cameroun); konga.ly(Libya); konga.ma (Mauritius); konga.mu (Morocco); konga.mw (Malawi); konga.sc (Seychelles); konga.sh (Saint Helena); konga.co.ke (Kenya); and konga.co.za (South Africa).
Ifeanyi Abraham, Public Relations Strategist at Konga.com, described Rocket Internet’s registration of the domain names as “destructive competition.”
“This company (Rocket Internet) has proceeded to buy and sit on the domain names of Konga across the continent,” Mr. Abraham said.
“These domain names were taken even before Konga had even had the chance to breathe, and we can see them trying to do the same by establishing businesses in different other areas where Nigerians/Africans are trying to innovate.
“They have registered 11 domain names related to Konga outside Nigeria and are taking other steps to stifle the growth of Nigerian businesses in the sectors they want to dominate,” Mr. Abraham added.
With 56 million internet subscribers and 120 million active cell phone lines as at September 2013, according to the Nigerian Communication Commission, e-commerce has continued to witness an impressive growth over the past few years.
“Since it was first noticed and it got reported on TechLoy (a technology news website) and we have gone ahead to request for these domain names without getting them returned,” said Mr. Abraham.
“We are going ahead with legal actions in the different jurisdictions where these domain names were registered,” he added.
Both online vendors report over 100,000 unique daily visitors, thus helping to grow Nigeria’s online shopping value by 25 per cent; from N49.9 billion in 2010 to N62.4 billion in 2011, according to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance Minister, while presenting President Goodluck Jonathan’s mid-term report last year.