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Global firm KOKO launches smart commerce platform for urban Africa

UK firm KOKO launches smart commerce platform for urban Africa

International firm KOKO Networks has launched its technology platform, which seeks to transform mass-market commerce in African cities, in Nairobi.

KOKO's platform involves a dense network of physical, cloud-connected e-commerce kiosks - known as KOKOpoints - located inside neighbourhood shops. The interactive touchscreen on each KOKOpoint enables consumers to learn about, purchase, and take delivery of a wider range of products and services than is typically available from such shops.

The company's cloud-based systems securely handle all payment and supply chain management functions, ensuring the seamless movement of money and goods between suppliers, shopkeepers and customers.

KOKOpoints are franchised to carefully-selected shopkeepers who, in return for a franchise fee, can diversify their product range and boost footfall. Customers pay for their purchases via mobile money or a range of payment options arranged with third-party lenders.

Once an order is placed, KOKO's systems ensure that delivery from the supplier to the local shop is completed in less than 24 hours. Customers then pick up their KOKO package at their convenience from the shop.

The first consumer offering available through KOKO is SmartCook, a modern cooking solution that competes with traditional cooking fuels on cost, safety and convenience. It consists of a modern two-burner stove and a reusable smart fuel canister that can be docked and refilled at KOKOpoints, which function like fuel ATMs.

"KOKO Networks is focused on improving life for everyone in Africa's cities. Our platform enables mass-market consumers, shopkeepers and suppliers to transact with greater speed, efficiency and insight than ever before. This is the future of commerce in urban Africa: smart, local and social," said Greg Murray, co-founder and CEO of KOKO Networks.

Amanda Donahue, General Manager of KOKO Networks Kenya, said with more than US$400 million spent per year on domestic cooking in Nairobi alone, much of it on slow, dirty and unsafe fuels, SmartCook was a positive addition to the market.

"SmartCook's solution is based on a liquid fuel which is cleaner to burn, safer to store, and cheaper to handle than solid or gaseous fuels. As KOKO expands across Nairobi, every resident will finally have access to a better way to cook," she said.

KOKO will be pursuing two growth strategies in parallel with the Nairobi launch. It is developing business partnerships to bring more products and services on board the KOKO platform, focusing on categories that interest urban African consumers most, and also initiating discussions with firms in the consumer goods and energy sectors who want to establish smart commerce networks in other cities by licensing the entire technology suite the company has launched in Nairobi.

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