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The role of ecommerce in 4IR

I moderated a session at the recent SAIIA conference on 4IR, with two SAIIA papers and interventions from CSIR and SADAC. This leads to SAIIA deciding to do a paper on ecommerce as a key element in the digital economy. As we all know, ecommerce in Africa is well underway, but it has potential to grow, creating new jobs and driving sustainable development. Ecommerce stakeholders from within and beyond the Continent have put together an action agenda to overcome the challenges to future ecommerce growth in the region. Goals and recommended next steps are identified in eight areas: Refresh policies; Expand connectivity; Upgrade logistics; Enable e-payments; Manage data; Grow tech; Up-skill small business; Join forces. The agenda recognizes that for any individual ecommerce business to prosper, a wide ecosystem of digital technology and supporting companies must flourish, with a mix of local and global action needed to leverage cross-border opportunities. The agenda also notes that ecommerce exists within a broader digital economy context, including infrastructure-related, and technology questions, such as 5G. Policy cooperation on related digital issues – taxation, competition, labour and consumer protection, intellectual property – is also critical.

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Alastair Tempest

Alastair Tempest

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