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Africa e-commerce summit opens in Kenya amid call for sound policies to boost its growth
Last Updated: 2018-12-11 09:43 | Xinhua
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The inaugural Africa e-commerce summit opened in Nairobi on Monday with delegates reiterating calls for sound policies to enhance the sector's growth.

Hundreds of participants including senior policy makers, industry executives, representatives of multilateral agencies, innovators and regulators are attending the five-day Africa e-commerce conference whose theme is "Empowering African economies in the digital era".

Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary general of UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which organized the summit in partnership with African Union and European Union, said the summit will explore innovative ways to spur growth of digital commerce in the world's second largest continent.

"The electronic trade in Africa has potential for growth but governments must put the right policies and regulations in place to ensure consumers are protected," Kituyi remarked.

Statistics from UNCTAD indicate that Africa had 21 million online shoppers by the end of 2017 while Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa accounts almost half of that number.

At the same time, the number of African online shoppers has risen by 18 percent annually since 2014, faster than the global average growth rate of 12 percent.

Chris Kiptoo, principal secretary in Kenya's ministry of trade said that exponential growth of electronic commerce in Africa will be dependent on investments in broadband, skills and research.

"We must invest in the infrastructure and human capital required to grow online commerce whose benefits include job creation and robust intra-Africa trade," said Kiptoo.

African countries should seize opportunities presented by the digital revolution to boost cross-border trade, promote growth of youth led start-ups and hasten diversification of their economies.

Akinwale Goodluck, head of Sub-Saharan Africa at global system for mobile communications said that growth of electronic commerce will position Africa as a strategic player in the global economy.

"The digital commerce is a strategic growth area in Africa and governments must provide the conducive regulatory environment to allow it to flourish," Akinwale said.

He urged African governments to reform taxation regime, harmonize policies and promote data protection to ensure online commerce is inclusive and seamless across borders.

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