By Prince Adetokunbo Kayode
Nigeria welcome the discussion at this Ministerial Conference 11 (MC11) on the future of Electronic Commerce (E-commerce) with a view on how best to design and implement global trade policies tailored to the changing realities of globalisation of commerce.
Doing this, we agree, will further maximise economic growth and development for all nations.
In 2016 the worth of e commerce activities in Nigeria was about $13 billion. It is estimated that Nigeria’s ecommerce value could rise to $50 billion by 2026. A significant contribution to GDP.
We have already being deployed for diverse services: agricultural e-wallet, payment for agric input, products transport logistics among others.
E-commerce is currently redefining and revolutionalising the modus operandi of companies and their customers.
In addition to direct Information and Technology (IT) jobs, E-commerce has also afforded employment opportunities in the logistics value chain sector, warehousing sorting, clearing, forwarding, transportation, logistics, handling, delivery, payment solutions, data services, merchant services and so on.
This development and projection is predicated and accentuated by the dynamic penetration of mobile telephony and data services and utilisation.
Mobile network coverage in Nigeria is currently 77% of the population of over 180 million. Internet penetration is still low at about 50%. But improving. Noteworthy however is that a thriving e-commerce is already connecting producers and merchants to buyers.
A few constraints may however stand in the way and may roll back the speed of the deployment and beneficiating effect in developing countries.
These include the constant issue of infrastructure, online security, costs of delivery logistics, fraud, loss of critical data especially due to the larger issue of geo-political dimension of hacking by both state and non state actors. Nigeria and other developing countries are entirely at the mercy of these dynamics.
The rural population in majority would have to wait a little longer to key into the overall matrix for reasons ranging from lack of awarenes, financial exclusion and digital connectivity challenges.
The digital economy will continue to experience an exponential growth, expanding trade and investment opportunities and transforming business models.
Consequently Nigeria calls for an international regulatory framework for e-commerce. Nigeria’s voice, and the voice of all developing countries has to be heard loud and clear on this.
The growth of digital economy must foster equality of opportunity, nurture environment for innovation, reasonable internet freedom, fair tariffs, resolve the issue of taxation of IT and internet services, transparency, consumer and personal data protection and privacy
We also call for support for developing countries to enable them develop required digital backbone for data acquisition, storage and management as well as human capacity development and skills enhancement in the e-commerce space.
Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN, CON, FCIArb, FCITI) who was four time cabinet Minister in Nigeria is the President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). He supplied this piece as delegate at the Conference holding in Buenos Aires, Argentina.