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COVID-19 has hit hard against several sectors of the global economy, but for technology companies like Hubtel Ghana, the pandemic presents an opportunity for a boom in their business.
Hubtel is primarily a bulk SMS solutions company for the past 15 years, under the name SMSGH, but they have for several years now been transforming into an e-payments and e-commerce business under the name Hubtel.
CEO of Hubtel Ghana, Alex Bram said since the advent of COVID-19, they have seen a boom on their e e-commerce platform in terms of merchants signing on, people making purchases, first-time users and the number of deliveries they have had to make since the outbreak.
Alex Bram was not shy to say that COVID-19 has helped their online retail business a great deal and so they are actually re-strategizing to focus more on the e-commerce business to meet the high demand on that side of their business, particularly food deliveries.
The company has since the outbreak of COVID-19, had to recruit more delivery service staff with motorbikes and branded shirts and delivery boxes to deliver mainly food people purchase from merchants/restaurants registered on the Hubtel platform – www.hubtel.com/food.
“We have been overwhelmed by the number of deliveries we have had to make since COVID-19 so we had to recruit more delivery guys so we even run out branded boxes and branded shirts,” he said.
Alex Bram noted that the buyer would either have to register an account on the Hubtel platform and pay with either the Hubtel wallet, a mobile money wallet linked to the account, or a bank card.
As an icing on the cake, all first-time users of the platform who order food, stand to win the GHC10 bonus from hubtel.
“This is perhaps a wake-up call for everyone that e-commerce is the way to go and so even though COVID-19 is not desirable, it is also driving the use of technology to solve our problems as a country,” he said.
He noted that COVID-19 is bringing the best out of every country – where governments are now supporting indigenous solutions and innovations to address challenges falling out of pandemic.
Alex Bram said this is not different from what happened in the face of other global crises like the second world war, SARs, MERS, and others, which saw private technology people come up with solutions for their countries and now those solutions have gone global.
He made particular mention of the Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, which was born out of the need to provide goods and services to people safely in the midst of the SARS outbreak in China then.
“Today Alibaba is a multi-billion global phenomenon, but it started off as an indigenous solution in the face of a crisis,” he noted.
Alex Bram strongly believes it is time for the government to support indigenous technology businesses to innovate and create indigenous solutions to deal with COVID-19 and its fallouts, saying that it is obvious every country around the world is doing that so Ghana should start moving in that direction now.
He believes in the aftermath of COVID-19, technology would even be more relevant so now is the time for the government to accelerate the process of the e-Ghana project to ensure that post COVID-19, the country will continue to run efficiently.
Hubtel’s and other e-commerce platforms are but a few of the indigenous innovations put out to help the country and citizens deal with challenges of the pandemic.
Indeed, since the outbreak of COVID-19, lots of Ghanaian businesses and individuals have come out with locally manufactured items like hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol, electronic Veronica buckets, nose masks, and even ventilators to deal with the crisis.