18 July 2016 a session on Unleashing the Power of E-Commerce for Development took place as part of UNCTAD 14 hosted by Nairobi, Kenya.
The roundtable discussion was presided by Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, and brought together global experts in e-commerce, including Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister for Commerce (Pakistan); Francois Kanimba, Minister of Trade and Industry (Rwanda); Kati Suominen, Founder and CEO of Nextrade Group and TradeUp Capital Fund (United States); Iliia Dimitrov, Ombudsman for E-Commerce, Executive Director of Association of Electronic Trading Platforms (Russia); Berna Ozsar Kumcu, Secretary-General of World SME Forum (Turkey); Hanne Melin Orbe, Director Global Public Policy of eBay Inc. (Switzerland); Ibrahima Diagne, Chairman of African Alliance for E-Commerce (Senegal), and representatives of private sector.
The issues of promoting e-commerce in developing economies, offering more opportunities in the field of e-commerce for SMEs, and enhancement of international cooperation on e-commerce topped the agenda.
According to a recent research, due to the growing number of Internet users and with mobile digital devices becoming ever more popular in Africa, around 83% of population in 14 African countries would like to purchase online. However, low income and insufficient development of logistics slow down the B2C e-commerce in the region.
At the same time, e-commerce encourages and promotes export activities of SMEs. According to Francois Kanimba, Minister for Trade and Industry of Rwanda, nowadays many coffee producers in Rwanda have received an opportunity to sell it directly through online-shops to consumers in Europe, excluding the distribution networks.
Berna Ozsar Kumcu, Secretary-General of World SME Forum, in turn, noted that with all the opportunities brought by e-commerce to SMEs there are still quite a number of issues to be settled internationally as regards the cross-border e-commerce development. «For the most efficient settlement of these issues international cooperation within clearly defined tasks is required», emphasized Berna Ozsar Kumcu.
Hanne Melin Orbe, Director Global Public Policy of eBay Inc., drew attention to the importance of facilitating the customs procedures, developing national delivery service, in the first place national post service delivery, and research in customer risks management.
Further to this, the participants of the session defined improvement of data sharing regulation and enabling a broader access to e-payments among the population through development of card payment systems as priority action lines.
During the visit to Kenya, a meeting between Iliia Dimitrov, Ombudsman for E-Commerce, Executive Director of Association of Electronic Trading Platforms of Russia (AETP), and Peter K. Biwott, Head of Policy Research and Advocacy of Kenyan Manufacturers Association (KAM), was also arranged, during which the parties negotiated the prospects of e-commerce between Russia and Kenya. The KAM representatives emphasized that Kenyan enterprises are interested in the Russian market, and it is the lack of information about the mutual markets which hampers larger trade turnover between Kenya and Russia. The colleagues from KAM assessed as highly progressive the Seldon.Basis information and analysis platform and noted that such solutions shall provide an effective tool for settling the issue of lack of the market awareness. The AETP and KAM agreed to further collaborate in order to promote cross-border e-trade between Russia and Kenya.