Jumia, the African e-commerce company backed by MTN, has filed for a New York initial public offering (IPO), which could value the firm at $1.6bn or more.

Jumia, founded in 2012, offers online shopping, logistics and payment services, but is losing money.

The company says its business is expanding, and the continent’s development will make it a better market, with a growing young population, more infrastructure investments, urbanisation and rapid economic growth.

The New York filing did not say how many shares Jumia would sell, nor at what price.

Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Berenberg and RBC Capital Markets are leading the IPO.

In December, Jumia was valued at €1.4bn with shares at €14.74, according to the filing. Jumia, which now counts Nigeria as its largest market, makes money both by selling its own products and by taking a cut from third-party sales.

In 2018, revenues were €130.6m, up from €94m the previous year. However, losses also rose, from €165.4m in 2017 to €170.4m in 2018.

By the end of December, accumulated losses were €862m, the firm said.

In the IPO prospectus, Jumia said that the value of goods sold on its platforms was increasing at a more rapid pace than losses — from €507.1m in 2017 to €828.2m in 2018.

Jumia’s active users — people who bought something at least once in the past year — increased to four-million at the end of December form 2.7-million a year earlier.

Rocket Internet owned 21.74% of Jumia as of the end of December, while MTN held 31.28%.

Other smaller shareholders include Millicom International, AXA Africa Holding and Goldman Sachs.