Shares of African e-commerce company Jumia jump 71 percent in debut

April 12 (Reuters) - Shares of Jumia Technologies AG jumped as much as 71.4 percent in their debut on Friday, giving the African e-commerce company a market valuation of nearly $2 billion as its stock peaked to the highest level at $24.86.

Jumia's shares opened at $18.95, 31.7 percent higher than its initial public offering price of $14.50. The company raised $196 million in net proceeds from an offering of 13.5 million American Depository Shares.

Founded by French entrepreneurs Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara in 2012, the company boasts 4 million active customers as of Dec. 31, 2018. Its online marketplace platform connects its 81,000 sellers with consumers in 14 African countries.

Jumia, a unit of German start-up investor Rocket Internet , said it was pinning hope on an e-commerce boom in Africa to drive future growth, even though online shopping is still at a nascent stage in the continent.

In 2018, less than 1 percent of retail sales in the African countries where the company operates were conducted online, compared to nearly 24 percent in China, Jumia said, quoting data from Euromonitor.

Jumia reported revenue of 130.6 million euros ($147.5 million) in 2018, up 39 percent from a year earlier. But high expenses due to advertising and technology spending have wiped off profits. The company made a loss of 170.4 million euros in 2018, more than 165.4 million euros loss in 2017.

The company’s IPO was underwritten by Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Berenberg, among others.

$1 = 0.8852 euros Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel