The ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), organized seven (7) virtual national workshops within the context of the ongoing regional eTrade readiness assessment for ECOWAS from 8 – 24 February 2022.
The regional eTrade readiness assessment is conducted by UNCTAD in close collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and Member State Ministries responsible for Trade and Information Communication Technology. This is the first step towards the development of an ECOWAS E-commerce Strategy.
The workshops brought together e-commerce focal points from Member States and relevant national stakeholders. They served to supplement information gathered through desk review and data collection. Representatives from Cabo Verde, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone participated and shared their feedback on the preliminary findings of the eTrade readiness assessment. The work undertaken for these seven countries serves to complement the 8 eTrade Readiness Assessments undertaken by UNCTAD for ECOWAS Member States in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo between 2018 and 2020, thereby providing an overall readiness assessment for the ECOWAS region.
Mr. Kolawole Sofola, Ag. Director, Trade, on behalf of Mr. Tei Konzi, Commissioner of Trade, Customs and Free Movement, ECOWAS Commission welcomed the broad participation of national focal points and representatives. He noted that this signalled member states’ support for an ECOWAS E-commerce Strategy, and the recognition that “e-commerce and a sound framework for its development can create a pathway for the use of technology to support economic diversification, sustainable growth, and job creation. The E-commerce Strategy will help integrate and deepen trade within the region.”
Ms. Cécile Barayre-El Shami, Chief, Digital Economy Capacity-building Section, E-Commerce and Digital Economy Branch, Division on Technology and Logistics at UNCTAD, highlighted the timeliness of the decision to develop an ECOWAS E-commerce Strategy, stating that “the ECOWAS region may still be at the beginnings of its digital transition, but the region and the continent are full of opportunities and have strong digital potential. The regional eTrade readiness assessment is one step towards understanding how much potential exists and how it can be harnessed for the development of a resilient, inclusive and sustainable ECOWAS region.”
She also acknowledged the trust the ECOWAS Commission and its Member States have placed in UNCTAD to support efforts at strengthening the e-commerce ecosystem in the region.
The results from the regional eTrade readiness assessment will be presented to national e-commerce focal points from all ECOWAS Member States at the “Second Regional Meeting on the E-Commerce Strategy” which is scheduled for 14 March 2022.
About the Regional E-commerce Strategy Development Project in ECOWAS
Following a request by the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2020, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is providing support for the development of a Regional E-commerce Strategy for ECOWAS thanks to the support of the Government of the Netherlands. The E-commerce Strategy Development project developed in cooperation with the ECOWAS Commission has the objective to assist it in its efforts to use technology to accelerate structural change and development, and foster regional integration, including through economic diversification, job creation and more inclusive trade.