The fifth (5th) regional meeting on the development of the ECOWAS e-commerce strategy was held on 20-21 March 2023 in Accra, Ghana. Its objective was to validate the draft strategy with a view to its subsequent submission to the Trade Ministers of ECOWAS Member States.
The ECOWAS e-commerce strategy is in line with the ambitions of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and those of the ECOWAS Vision 2050; it intends to leverage digitalization for economic development and create “a sustainable, inclusive and secure e-commerce ecosystem, in support of ECOWAS’ efforts to leverage technology to accelerate structural change and foster economic growth. regional integration through economic diversification and job creation”. Its four strategic objectives focus on institutional strengthening, building trust in the e-commerce supply chain, providing e-commerce intelligence, and including marginalized and vulnerable groups.
In his welcome remarks, Mr. Kwaku Appiah-Adu, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, highlighted the potential of the digital economy for the future of Africa, highlighting the importance of addressing existing connectivity and electricity challenges, as well as the need to ensure that marginalized and vulnerable groups reap the benefits of the digital economy. He urged Member States to leverage the ECOWAS E-Commerce Strategy to promote the common vision of a vibrant and inclusive digital economy for West Africa.
On behalf of Ms. Massandjé Touré-Litse, Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture of ECOWAS, Mr. Kolawole Sofola, in his capacity as Director of Trade, underlined the importance of the strategy within the framework of the efforts deployed by the region to make technology a tool for development. He commended Member States for this important step, indicating that the effective implementation of this strategy should help to raise the level of adoption and use of e-commerce in the region, support the structural transformation of economies Member States through digital means and to deepen regional trade integration.
For her part, Ms. Cécile Barayre-El Shami, Head of Capacity Building in the Digital Economy Section, E-Commerce and Digital Economy Branch, Technology and Logistics Division, UNCTAD , reiterated his institution’s continued commitment to support ECOWAS in the implementation of the strategy. She highlighted the success factors for its implementation, namely, strong political leadership and a solid coordination framework at the national and regional levels.
The meeting was attended by senior officials from ministries responsible for trade and information and communication technology (ICT) of ECOWAS Member States, as well as representatives of the ECOWAS Commission, the Conference of United Nations on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.