The government is developing a national E-Commerce Strategy (ECS) to boost Kenya’s economic opportunities that are supportive to the country’s strategic goals and Vision 2030.
Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina said the State is cognizant that e-commerce that is driven by enhanced digital skills and innovative entrepreneurs is the foundation of economic growth.
She said businesses and individuals in the country need to prepare to reap from the benefits of e-commerce presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) trade pact, which offers an estimated market base of over 1.2 billion people.
“Historically, the country‘s export has been relying on narrow products and export destinations. E-Commerce will therefore be critical in steering the country to increase its products exports and expand export destinations,” said Maina.
She said that the government will continue to encourage innovation and investment in last mile delivery to encourage e-commerce activities.
The CS was speaking on Tuesday during the national launch of the Kenya e-Trade and Readiness Assessment at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete, Nairobi which highlights the importance of continuous innovations and e-commerce for domestic and regional trade.
The report also indicates that Kenya is one of the leading countries on the African Continent in E-commerce, with combined revenues expected to hit US$ 3.6 billion by the end of 2022, which she said is driven by the robust investments by the government in digital infrastructure among them increased internet adoption, uptake of digital devices and mobile money innovations..
She however, noted that despite the strides the county has made in adapting e-commerce, the digital divide remains an issue since it is still an urban area phenomenon.
“According to the 20th Edition of the Kenya Economic Update: securing future growth, 44 percent of the urban population have access to the internet as compared to 17 percent in rural area,’ said Maina.
The CS reiterated that for all Kenyans to benefit from e-commerce there is need for scaling up of digital skills and continuous improvement of road infrastructure for more effective and efficient transportation of goods.
She added that players in e-commerce were experiencing challenges in transporting goods from their stores to customers since customers were not willing to incur more transport costs.
“The cost of delivering products especially in the rural area is still higher and is slowing down the growth of e-commerce’ Maina said.
The CS at the same time announced that the country is in the process of developing a National Addressing Framework which will provide a legal framework for the establishment and implementation of a cohesive and integrated national addressing system to boost the uptake and growth of e-commerce.
She however, noted that the benefits of e-commerce can be hampered by lack of trust and transparency amongst sector players who agree on mutual argument while conducting transactions online and flooding of markets with counterfeit products, and urged relevant players to build trust in their transactions.
The CS stated that government is consolidating efforts to put in place and implement strategies and policies which ensure consumer data protection, intellectual property rights protection and cybersecurity protection to encourage entrepreneurs and consumers to engage in e-commerce activities.
In her remarks Broadcasting and Telecommunication Principal Secretary Esther Koimett in a speech read on her behalf by Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Secretary of Administration Juliana Yiapan thanked the United Nations Conference on Trade Development (UNCTAD) and Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for financing and technical support towards the development of the national e-commerce strategy.
The PS said the report is vital as it will provide a basic analysis of the current e-commerce situation in the country, as well identify opportunities and barriers.
Koimett said Kenya has made substantial investments in ICT infrastructure that is essential for the growth of e-commerce in the areas of digital connectivity, data infrastructure and electricity connections which she attributed to the growth in mobile and broadband subscriptions, increased digitization of public services and improved international internet bandwidth.
The PS however, noted that despite the improvement in infrastructure the country still grapples with uptake of digital devices, gaps in mobile network coverage and last mile broadband connectivity, inadequate access to reliable and affordable electricity, as wells as high costs of data and essential infrastructure hardware which she said hamper increase of e-commerce adoption.
“The government is aware of the glaring digital skills deficit in the country and has put in place policy measures to address them by mainstreaming ICT at all levels of education, as highlighted in the National ICT Strategy for Education and Training and Vision 2030 policy document,” said Koimett.
She assured that her ministry will oversee and coordinate the implantation of recommendation to the report that will guide in developing a national e-commerce Strategy.
The e-Trade Readiness Assessment report has provided an overview of the current e-commerce ecosystem in Kenya and identifies opportunities and barriers in seven policy areas which include commerce readiness and strategy formulation, ICT infrastructure and services, trade logistics and trade facilitation, payment solutions, legal and regulatory frameworks, e-commerce skills development and access to financing
By Bernadette Khaduli