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Africa E-Commerce Week 10th-14th December 2018

By: - Alhaji Mohamed Wusha-Conteh 20th December,2018

Please permit space in your widely circulated news medium to dilate on our discussions at the recent Africa E-Commerce Week in Nairobi, Kenya.

The program which was the first to be organized in African soil was officially opened by the President of Kenya, Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta at the United Nations Headquarter Conference Room in Nairobi, Kenya.

In his remarks, President Uhuru Kenyatta, hailed UNCTAD Africa E-Commerce Week as a major milestone on the road to a digital Africa. He said that the popular M-Pesa (Mobile Money) had put Kenya on the digital map and called for enhanced collaboration between E-Commerce stakeholders in Africa, particularly with regard to digitalizing traditional manufacturing sectors as well as supporting new business models.

European Commissioner for Digital Single Market, Vice President Andrus Ansip, emphasized that E-Commerce could bring great benefits to Africa and will lead to transparency and less corruption.

Main Topics Discussed;

Legal and Regulatory frameworks as security and trust are fundamental to e-commerce as they reassured both consumers and businesses.

? Cyber Security Laws

? E-Commerce Law

? Privacy and Data Protection Laws

? Laws protecting Small, Medium Businesses

Barriers to E-Commerce

? Need for the improvement of road, energy and regulatory infrastructure so that hard to reach areas could benefit

? Cost of Broadband should be a public utility.

? Need to make better goods that are worth exporting and skill in building digital platform

? Access to the rural digital technology offered a route to their economic emancipation also provide a way to improve performance, traceability and trust along the value chain

Continental free Trade area to boost E-Commerce in Africa

? The continental free trade area will offer opportunities of scale and the free movement of people, goods and services, as no single actor can achieve digital transformation.

? Challenges such as the persistence infrastructure gap and the digital divide, inadequate regulatory and institution frameworks, a weak enabling environment, and limited skills of both producers and consumers of digital products.

? It is very clear that e-commerce and digital economy do not happen by accident but as a result of purposeful actions. Government must create a policy framework, invest in right skills, protect the integrity of payment systems, and construct road and delivery networks.

Post and E-Commerce

• The Universal Postal Union believes it can best serve the transport and trade logistics challenges of the SIDS through its mission's objective of facilitating trade for MSMEs located in these States and contributing thereby to their economic development, which in turn will stimulate demand for both air and maritime transport links.

• Key factors affecting mail Supply chain transparency through tracking and tracing

• Landing cost – calculation of shipping costs, taxes and duties

• Integration of cross-border networks

• House Addresses as not all areas have an Address

The Integrated Index for Postal Development 2018 rates Sierra Leone 142 out of 173 Countries. The Index offers a benchmark performance score along four dimensions of postal development Reliability, Reach, Relevance and Resilience.

Experience Sharing

• East Africa bloc agrees to make trade cheaper, faster and simple by implementing non-tariff barriers and incompatible product regulations.

• Give an opportunity to simplify the import and export of commodities reduce bureaucracy, with online clearance reducing contacts at the border to stimulate trade within the EAC.

• Reducing cost of doing business by implementing Single Window to promote export and attract investment.

Mobile money holds key to financial inclusion in Africa

• Bringing banking to more Africans means aligning public and private sector adjectives and exploiting the gains made by mobile money payment solution.

• M-Pesa (Mobile Money) platform includes more people into the economy in Africa as at the moment you have an easy effective and safe payment solution. Financial inclusion follows

Implications of E-Commerce for job creation and Development in Africa in the Digital Era, Improving access to finance for digital entrepreneurs in Africa, Building skills for the digital economy through education, interaction and advocacy, Women’s empowerment in an era of e-commerce and digitalization.

I believe Sierra Leone is on the right trajectory to implement E-Commerce in the Country as presently the Ministry of Information and Communication has drafted the e-transaction legislation and just recently they are in the process to drafting cyber security legislation, this will definitely bring sanity in doing business online.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry and its partners has made frantic efforts in creating an enabling environment in doing business. Presently they are pushing for the implementation of single-window which will remove some barriers in importing and exporting goods.

The Sierra Leone Postal Service is trying to upgrade the postal service system in order to compete though much needs to be done to restore trust and confidence. The Postal Service has a vital role to play especially in the area of Reliability, and Resilience so that our ranking in the Integrated Index for Postal Development done by the Universal Postal Union will be improved.

We still need to address some challenges to prepare ourselves for E-Commerce and some of these challenges includes, implementing legal and regulatory framework to support e-commerce, upgrade our infrastructure to be fully functional, implementing single window in the port, building trust on our Postal system, creating friendlier environment in doing business amongst others.

In Conclusion, I want to recommend we implement the Kenya system of mobile money which has now gone across borders of the eastern African bloc. It would have been advantageous if we have a national platform like Sierratel to implement this payment system but we can take advantage of Orange or Africell Money as they have created the platform which can be integrated across the borders.