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News from Africa

Growth Dialogue for SA Services Businesses.

Following the SADC meeting on creating a services market in the 16-country bloc on 6-8 Nov in Cape Town (which included a very successful site visit to Takealot to give delegates an idea of how ecommerce works), the DTIC held a dialogue meeting on 13 November with the support of Wesgro, Tralac and EFSA, and sponsored by GIZ. The aim was to identify issues for consideration by SADC in the ongoing negotiations. The SADC secretariat provided the basis for the discussions by listing the restrictions which its 16 member states presently apply to professional services and trade in other services. It made for some sobering reading. The non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in place were numerous. EFSA gave a presentation on the main restrictions that face ecommerce as a service.

EFSA pointed out that regulations such as localisation of data would prevent access to the Internet of Things. Prof Katrin Kuhlmann of New Markets Lab (see previous Newsletters), supported with new research EFSA’s arguments that it would be a mistake for the SA government to vote against the moratorium on tariffs applied to electronic transmissions in 2024. A copy of EFSA’s speaking notes is available on request ([email protected]).

Meanwhile, UNCTAD has recently emphaised that, while digital delivery has the potential to empower skilled providers anywhere in the world to engage in trade, its benefits are not automatic. Many developing countries lack adequate infrastructure and financial resources to tap the potential of digitally delivered trade. And only a few countries directly measure the size and composition of trade in digitally delivered services. These include telecommunications and computer services, financial, insurance, pension and various business services, including ecommerce.

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Alastair Tempest

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