Across the African continent, internet penetration is low, computers are often too expensive to purchase, and online business transactions can be logistically complicated to execute.
But the surge in mobile phone use - there are currently 695 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa - has given Africans a simple and pervasive means of sharing information and conducting business.
In recent years, a few innovative African companies have found ways to harness the e-potential of mobile commerce and information sharing, changing the way in which Africans communicate and conduct business.
SlimTrader, founded by Nigerian-American Femi Akinde, is an e-commerce firm that is meant to ease the exchange of goods and widen the online markets for Africans.
Mr Akinde and the SlimTrader team created Mobiashara, a mobile technology that allows users to search for and purchase products via text message.
This technology provides retailer’s information and inventory, and also partners with mobile payment providers such as M-PESA and MTN so someone can make a purchase with a press of a button on their mobile device.