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Report for the Ecommerce Week, 10th to 14th December, 2018, Nairobi, Kenya by Taiwo Akinremi Peter ACSIS West Africa Regional Coordinator


Report for the Ecommerce Week, 10th to 14th December, 2018, Nairobi, Kenya
Taiwo Akinremi Peter
ACSIS West Africa Regional Coordinator
compsoftnet@gmail.com

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya graced the Africa eCommerce Week as he officially delivered a heartfelt speech of commitment toward digital Africa. The president reminded the meeting of his government been in the frontline of enhancing digital service delivery that reduces cost and time of access to government services. Mr. Kenyatta said that the birth of M-Pesa mobile payment has put the country on the global digital map. He called for a balance between innovation and regulation where there is collaboration between e-commerce stakeholders. He further said that manufacturing sector must be digitized to support new business models for sustainability.

UNCTAD's Africa eCommerce Week in Nairobi, Kenya, focuses on what must be done to speed up the readiness of African countries to engage in and benefit from e-commerce.
At the center of the discussions were the key findings of the assessment of what African countries need to do to benefit from e-commerce and the digital economy. The assessment shows that there is a need for a reform for Africa to seize the e-commerce opportunities. The reforms would also help identify barriers, opportunities and policy measures required to improve e-commerce readiness.
Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary General reported that the importance of the meeting was that Africa was being left out in the discussion of e-commerce and trade. He reminded the meeting that building an Africa e-commerce system does not mean Africans can buy goods in the international market but that people abroad can buy goods in Africa.


The eCommerce week started with a high level meeting that has the representation of UNCTAD Secretary General, UNON, international organization, and Private sector, Businesses, Academia and Civil Society.
On the front burners were the issues of cross border trade between the African countries and the international market, mobile payment, mobile connectivity, accessibility, taxes, awareness, trust, capacity building, cost of devices and data.

It was noted that business model must evolve as the digital space evolved. Ideation must come with sustainable business models to get the needed support. Women should not be given access, but must be part of access processes. Civil society must intensify their efforts and pressure to ensure implementation of strategic digital policy implementation by the necessary stakeholders.
Africa must come together to build a unique single eCommerce market that competes with that of the international market.

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of Economic Commission for Africa noted that the African countries need to answer the question of building the system that would allow them to compete with world markets and the identification of the right e-commerce strategies. And in building that system, it must be done in the context of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement. Vera further said that Africa has a long way to go in intra-continental levels of trade compared to other international trade. She said that e-commerce has the potential to ensure an inclusive trade without leaving no one behind. It can ensure harmonization where different African countries can talk.

Bishar Hussein, Director General of Universal Postal Union noted that Africa needs a continental e-commerce strategy. The absence of a continental e-commerce strategy will result in failure of e-commerce in Africa. He further said that Africa needs to trade with itself and not a dumping ground for produces outside the continent.

The eCommerce Week features the launched of three reports, UNCTAD led e-Trade for all partnerships which demonstrate readiness across seven policy areas in the African Countries, Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia. The recommendations of the report lay the ground of e-commerce stakeholders to act. The assessments clearly identified areas that need urgent attention for e-commerce scaling in those countries.

Andrus Ansip, Vice President of the European Commission for Digital Single Market said that more digital will lead to transparency and greater efficiency which will automatically lead to less corruption. He reminded the meeting that the EU has faced the same challenges as Africa and they are ready to share the experience with Africa. Ansip, said that there is no basis of digital economy without connectivity. He expresses the readiness of the EU to support Africa to build a digital ecosystem.

Malcom Johnson, Deputy General, International Telecommunication Union reported that the flow of e-commerce benefits required connectivity. He reminded the meeting that less people are still connected in Africa. On this, he highlighted the problem as lack of incentive for people to get connected.

Jessica Anuna, UNCTAD’s e-Founder Fellowship Initiative graduate informed the meeting that shipment within Africa cost more than shipping from Asia which signify the barrier to e-commerce industry.

Chris Folayan, CEO of MallforAfrica said that the barrier holding Africa back is the cost of getting online and the trust modules.

The African Civil Society on the Company of the largest pan-African network ICT Information organized the first contest of mobile e-commerce applications (ECMAA Awards). Dr. Cissé Kane, ACSIS President informed the meeting that the competition aimed to stimulate creativity and innovation among young talents, students, young graduates of our continent (and its diaspora) and promote solutions for new job opportunities through the development of e-commerce mobile application.
50 applications from 15 African countries were registered. Of the 18 pre-selected teams, 11 gathered in Nairobi to participate in the final as well as 2 teams online. The final of the competition took place on Friday, December 14, 2018 where three winners were selected.
After a hotly contested hearing of 13 candidates from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mauritius, Tunisia, DRC, Senegal, etc., the jury deliberated with the following results:

Winner : M. Moustapha Djimera, Application IWANGA,  Mauritania
2nd Prize : M. Thierno Souleymane Agne, Application E-connect AGRI, Senegal
3rd Prize : M. Jacob Diatta, Application Taxibokko, Senegal

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