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Opportunities abound for Africa to engage in and benefit from e-commerce and the digital economy as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) comes into force, as discussed at the UNCTAD Africa E-commerce Week in Nairobi. UNCTAD secretary-general said that global e-commerce has grown phenomenally, but even so, it remained constrained.

The high-level dialogue on trade and the digital economy in Africa addressed challenges such as the persisting infrastructure gap and the digital divide, inadequate regulatory and institutional frameworks, a weak enabling environment, and limited skills of both producers and consumers of digital products. More than 1,000 participants from 48 countries shared their experiences and success stories for leveraging ecommerce for the development of African economies.

The session, organised by UNCTAD, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the African Union, was moderated by Julie Gichuru, founder and chief executive officer of Arimus Media, and broadcast on You- Tube and Facebook. “It’s very clear that e-commerce and the digital economy do not happen by accident but as a result of purposeful actions. Governments must create a policy framework, invest in the right skills, protect the integrity of payment systems, and construct roads and delivery networks,” UNCTAD secretary-general Mukhisa Kituyi.

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