The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development will host its first regional edition of the Africa e-Commerce week in Nairobi this week (between the 10th and 14th of December) after the success of the e-commerce week held in Geneva earlier in April this year. Jointly organized by the African Union, the European Union and the Government of Kenya, the week’s conferences and activities will fall under the theme ‘Empowering African Economies in the Digital Era’.
Nairobi is the first African capital to host this summit placing Kenya at the pivot of influencing African e-commerce. With the third highest internet penetration rates in Africa at 66%, Kenyan entrepreneurs have the lion’s share of the East African region’s e-commerce base, closely followed by Uganda. Although this is an exciting start, inadequate infrastructure in parts of the country and the region may slow down this vision.
The vision of e-commerce is to transform lives in Africa, this, however, cannot be done by simply having deep internet penetration and smartphone users around the continent. The only way to fuel e-commerce in Africa is by understanding the industrial, infrastructural and economic demographics in order to create strategies that serve the region and subsequently, the continent.
In Kenya for example, only 5% of the total population with access to the internet are e-commerce consumers – a large Kenyan population is still dependent on informal retail. The main purpose of this summit is thus to open the eyes of Kenyan and African consumers, through entrepreneurs and the government, to the possibilities of e-commerce.
With e-commerce playing a leading role in reaching a more diverse group of customers broadening the scope of marketing and marketing strategies, it will be important to note the benefits this summit will have to the country, the region and those in attendance.
Some of the benefits this conference will bring
An opportunity to share. The event purposes to bring to the table ministers, senior government representatives, members of the civil society, the private sector and international organizations, allowing an inclusive opportunity to have conversations on the ways to shape the African digital economy through development and innovation.
The platform to learn. The multi-stakeholder programme will include high-level segments, thematic sessions and various workshops on cutting-edge technologies in collaboration with business. This will give participants an opportunity to encounter practices that have been implemented successfully in different policy areas.
An open prospect to connect and network. The week’s activities will feature players from both the public and the private sector in the sub-regional and international level in one place. This will provide an opportunity for them to convene, network and liaise on future prospective projects.
A first for the East African sub-region, it will be important that the summit is not only successful but that it will also produce innovative ideas to allow the region to compete on a global scale.
The activities of the week can be followed online under the hashtag #AfricaEWeek.