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Jumia, perhaps the biggest online retailer in Africa is set to offer its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in New York some time this year. People familiar with the matter say the planned IPO could see the business be valued at about $1.5 billion (about R20.4 billion).

MTN Group, as the biggest shareholder in Jumia, is planning to raise as much as $600 million from the sale of its shares through the planned IPO. Neither Jumia nor MTN Group has given official statements to the press about the IPO. People privy to the matter say for some time now, the MTN Group has been mulling on listing or private sale of its shares in Jumia.

Should the IPO sail through, the Lagos-based online retailer could enter the global map of world-leading businesses. Jumia was incepted seven years ago, and grown fast to become the Amazon of Africa, with a presence in 13 countries across the continent.

Jumia is one of the only three private company valued over $1 billion; according to the research firm CB Insights. It was set up in 2012 by French entrepreneur Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara to ride the wave of internet adoption across the continent. They immediately identified the lack of designer watches and sunglasses in Lagos, Nigeria and those were among their first stock.

From the horse’s mouth (Jumia) says that about two-thirds of the 1.2 billion people living in Africa don’t have access to the internet. That means there is plenty of room for growth in e-commerce, which potential investors should look into for growth in profit and sales.

Already, tech giants like Google and Facebook are at an arms race to connected the unconnected people in Africa with the internet. It is very clear that whoever will set up the infrastructure first will have the upper hand by putting its products on the fast lane of connectivity.

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