• Company in discussions with logistics companies in Kenya
  • Plans to start service before end of first quarter of 2018

Safaricom Ltd. of Kenya plans to introduce an e-commerce platform within eight months targeting formal retail and informal online trading in East Africa’s biggest economy, directors at the company said.

Known as Masoko, Swahili for markets, it will offer products ranging from electronics to beverages and cosmetics, and provide a tool for people currently buying and selling goods on social-media platforms such as Facebook, Director of Enterprise Business Rita Okuthe said in an interview. The portal is currently undergoing in-house testing, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said.

“This offering will not be holding inventory and neither will it be an anyone-can-sell arena,” Collymore said in an interview in the capital, Nairobi. “Safaricom is carefully screening all the merchants before giving them access to the platform.” Okuthe said the goal was to become “a little bit more” than an African equivalent of Amazon.com Inc.’s Marketplace.

Safaricom is looking for ways to build on the success of M-Pesa, its mobile-phone money transfer service that dominates the Kenyan economy and is used by…