November 25 2021 0Comment

ECOWAS E-commerce Experts meet to discuss the development of the Regional E-commerce Strategy

The ECOWAS Commission and the United Nation Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) convened a meeting on 18 November, 2021 with E-commerce focal points from the region to present the project on the development of the regional E-commerce strategy.


Information and communication technologies (ICT) with the advent of the internet have revolutionized the economic exchange of goods, services, data, and information. UNCTAD reported that e-commerce sales hiked to $26.7 trillion globally in 2019 by enabling previously unconnected businesses to have access the global marketplace. Countries around the world are adopting policies to integrate digital trade in their economic development strategies with a view to promote and accelerate inclusive growth.

In his opening remarks Mr Kolawole SOFOLA, the Ag Director for Trade of the ECOWAS Commission speaking on behalf of the Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement Mr Tei KONZI, recalled the low level development of e-commerce in the region compared to the rest of the world. He highlighted the uneven development of e-commerce in the region as revealed by the E-trade readiness assessment conducted by UNCTAD in selected ECOWAS Member States based on seven policies areas of e-commerce development including e-commerce infrastructure and services, payment, trade logistics, legal and regulatory frameworks, skills development and financing of e-trade economy. After underscoring the important role of e-commerce in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the ECOWAS Vision 2050, he highlighted the efforts undertaken by the region to tackle the challenges of e-commerce development.

The representative of UNCTAD Mrs Cécile Barayre-El Shami, recalled the longstanding collaboration between the ECOWAS Commission and her institution. She recalled that the regional strategy is aimed at assisting the region in its efforts to use technology to accelerate structural change, development and foster regional integration, including through economic diversification, job creation and more inclusive trade activities. She stated that the UNCTAD has undertaken a number of activities to accompany ECOWAS Member States in their efforts to develop e-commerce, including E-Trade readiness assessment and strategies which contributed to create a baseline for the e-commerce expansion in the beneficiary countries.

The overall objective of the meeting was to introduce to national e-commerce focal points the ECOWAS and UNCTAD counterparts, as well as present to them the steps envisaged towards the preparation of the regional e-commerce strategy. Both ECOWAS Commission and UNCTAD stressed on the critical role of national focal for the successful development of the regional strategy by facilitating the engagement of national stakeholders.

During the meeting, ECOWAS Commission and UNCTAD provided national Experts with an overview of the project and respond to the issues raised after the presentations with regard to the methodology, the responsibilities and timeline of the project implementation.
The strategy will take into consideration the African Union (AU) led initiatives in the area of e-commerce and digital development, the new African Continental Free-Trade Area (AfCFTA), and other relevant programmes/projects implemented at national level and international level.

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