The report of the regional assessment on eTrade readiness of Member States of ECOWAS highlights the prerequisites for the growth and development of e-commerce within and between member states.
The Regional E-commerce Strategy Development Project was launched in October 2021, by the ECOWAS Commission and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) with funding from the government of the Netherlands. The project aims to provide a roadmap for e-commerce development that leads to the use of technology to accelerate structural change and development, and foster regional integration, including through economic diversification, job creation and more inclusive trade activities within the ECOWAS region.
As a precursor to the Strategy, UNCTAD conducted an eTrade Readiness Assessment of Member States of ECOWAS (ECOWAS eTrade Ready). The ECOWAS eTrade Ready followed UNCTADs eTrade Ready methodology which is designed to identify e-commerce development challenges in developing countries, especially least developing countries. It assesses the state of e-commerce preparedness in countries or regions based on seven (7) policy areas namely: i) e-commerce readiness and strategy formulation ii) ICT infrastructure and services iii) trade facilitation and logistics iv) legal and regulatory framework v) payment solutions vi) skills development and vii) access to finance.
The ECOWAS eTrade ready report notes that most Member States have placed digitalization at the centre of their efforts towards economic growth, and for this, have adopted and are implementing strategies and policies to convert this ambition into results. Unfortunately, there remains a need for deliberate action to extend this digitalization effort and channel it into trade-driving activities that are supportive of e-commerce. The report highlights the need to:
Strengthen Trade ministries in ECOWAS Member States on e-commerce development,
Enhance trust within the e-commerce ecosystem within and between Member states,
Improve monitoring of the e-commerce market, and Foster inclusion.