GENEVA, Switzerland — Generous grant from the Netherlands will boost Africa-wide ambitions to benefit from e-commerce and provides concrete support to its least developed countries.
Digitalization is a gamechanger for the African continent’s e-commerce entrepreneurs, but not all its nations have an enabling environment to benefit from the digital economy. New funds from the Netherlands aim to change that.
This week the Dutch government announced additional funding of $1.5 million for UNCTAD’s eTrade Readiness Assessments, more than doubling its financial support to the organization’s work on e-commerce and the digital economy for the 2021 to 2022 period.
“The Dutch contribution is particularly welcome in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shown the importance of e-commerce and of scaling up efforts to help countries that are trailing behind in the digital economy to catch up,” said Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics.
The support will provide UNCTAD, the UN’s trade and development body, with the funds to help selected African countries strengthen their readiness to engage in and benefit from e-commerce.
The Dutch funding will help more countries to design national e-commerce strategies, improve the measurement of e-commerce and the digital economy, and develop stronger legal and regulatory frameworks for e-commerce.
Helping the least developed to level up
UNCTAD’s eTrade Readiness Assessments are a cornerstone of its digital economy programme. They provide up-to-date diagnostics of how least developed countries (LDCs) and other developing countries are harnessing the potential of the digital revolution for e-commerce, trade and development.
The assessments identify the critical weaknesses in the e-commerce ecosystems and propose concrete actions for governments to improve the situation. For most LDCs, the assessments are the first comprehensive set of information and analysis needed to better formulate their policy priorities and needs for development assistance in the area of e-commerce.
“The pandemic shows us the need to step up our efforts to build more inclusive, resilient and sustainable economies. We believe eTrade provides great opportunities for developing countries and vulnerable groups to access new markets and to help improve economic and social outcomes,” said Steven Collet, director of sustainable economic development in the Netherlands’ ministry of foreign affairs.
“We partner with UNCTAD to support countries in reaping the benefits from digitalization,” he added.
The Netherlands has actively supported the eTrade for all initiative and its eTrade for Women spin-off for the past two years. These innovative and collaborative efforts have laid the ground for increased synergies among partners to bridge digital divides and promote more gender-inclusive digital policymaking.
The new funding will allow UNCTAD to scale up its support to selected African LDCs and complement current efforts that are supported by Germany, also a core donor to UNCTAD’s work in this area.