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Businesses encouraged to embrace e-commerce

Kenya is in the process of putting in place an e-commerce strategy to propel growth in trade and businesses that will enable the country reap maximum benefits in the sector.

The Principal Secretary for Broadcasting and Telecommunication in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Ms. Esther Koimett said the strategy is vital as it will enable the country identify economic opportunities that are supportive to the nation’s strategic development goals contained in Vision 2030, the Digital Economy Blueprint, the National ICT Policy, National Broadband Strategy 2023 and the National Cybersecurity Plan.

She at the same time noted the proposed strategy which is expected to be in place in mid-2022, seeks to leverage the country’s strengths in e-trade while tackling the bottlenecks that hinder e-commerce.

Koimett said for Kenya to reach the heights of highly ranked countries like Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark and Singapore in terms of e-trade, Kenya has to ensure that there is access to secure internet servers, reliable postal services and accessible telecommunication infrastructure.

“As a country we need to ensure that majority of population uses the internet and can access financial institutions or mobile money services,” she said, adding that a vibrant e-commerce will greatly accelerate both economic and social development thereby creating jobs and increase trade.

The PS made the remarks today in a speech read on her behalf by the Secretary Administration, Broadcasting and Telecommunication Juliana Yiapan during the E-Trade Readiness Assessment Consultations meeting held at a Nairobi hotel.

The two-day meeting which aims at gauging Kenya’s preparedness for e-commerce had drawn participants from various ministries and technical partners from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and GIZ.

She said the findings of the meeting will provide a foundation on which the country will use to develop a national e-commerce strategy.

Koimett said Kenya is fully maximizing on the digital transformation opportunities to enhance financial inclusion in the global market singling out M-Pesa, PesaLink and PesaPal.

“As at 30th September 2020, active mobile money transfer subscriptions and mobile money agents stood at 31.8 million and 245, 124 respectively. The business -to-business transfers stood at Sh. 1.33 trillion while customer-to-business transfers stood at sh. 736 billion,” she announced.

In the same year, the number of active mobile subscriptions (SIM cards) stood at 59.8 million while that of data/internet subscriptions stood at 43.5 million, an indication, the PS says is a confirmation that the country is on the right track towards e-trade readiness.

According to UNCTAD e-commerce index of 2020, Kenya has been ranked position 88 out of 152 countries, and taking the lead in the East Africa Community region.

The PS at the same time announced that the Ministry of ICT has put in place protective mechanisms for the courier industry to enable highest level of professionalism and security during the purchase and delivery of items online.

“We are also working on the establishment of a National Addressing System for the country to provide a robust mapping of properties and places, this will make it easier for deliveries to be made directly to consumers,” she added.

Making his remarks virtually, the UNCTAD Head of E-commerce and Digital Economy Branch, Division on Technology and Logistics, Mr. Torbjorn Frediksson commended Kenya for being in the frontline in supporting e-commerce and the ICT ministry for its cooperation and smooth implementation of the e-Trade Readiness Assessment Project.

He said it is only through leveraging digital tools that businesses can be empowered and voices of small medium and enterprises among them the youth, women and people with disability can be heard.

In his address, Bernd Lakemeier, Head of Cluster, Sustainable Economic Development and Youth Employment GIZ- Kenya said e-commerce will improve the Small and Medium Enterprises to participate in border trade towards the development of Kenya’s e-strategy.

“GIZ is committed to assist the ICT ministry, other ministries to support e-commerce and UNCTAD in achieving e-Trade,” he added.

By Bernadette Khaduli

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