Businesses urged to participate in global e-commerce

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

ZIMBABWEAN businesses have been urged to strengthen their participation in the global e-commerce space to promote diversification and increase exports.

In a recent publication, the country’s export promotion body, ZimTrade said the southern African nation has the potential to grow its services sector and increase participation of small to medium-scale enterprises in exports through e-commerce.

“E-commerce has opened up new ways to connect producers and merchants directly to customers around the world,” ZimTrade said.

According to figures from the International Trade Centre (ITC), e-commerce business worldwide amounted to approximately $2,4 trillion in 2018, with Africa’s share amounting to $50 billion.

“It is clear that more still needs to be done to encourage the uptake of e-commerce in Africa. Countries that are actively developing their e-commerce through online shopping are Mauritius, Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria,” ZimTrade said.

ZimTrade said Zimbabwe, just like many other African countries, continues to struggle to successfully develop its digital economy owing to several factors.

In addition to other factors, Zimbabwe faces challenges with the high cost of internet connectivity, access to internet, website development and maintenance, reluctance to embrace digitalisation by general populace, among other factors.

“In light of the opportunities brought about by e-commerce, it is imperative that Zimbabwe strengthens its participation in the global e-commerce arena to promote diversification and increased exports,” the export promotion organisation said.

During stakeholder engagements with the services sector in August 2018, companies noted that growing the services sector across the borders requires efficient ICT infrastructure and affordable internet services to encourage companies to develop appealing websites, constantly update and offer online payment solutions to their clients.

Zimbabwean companies can also make use of widely available resources which support the development of e-commerce, ZimTrade said.

“One such resource is the e-trade for all initiative which proffers seven critical areas to be looked into for effective development and amongst these, are legal and regulatory issues, payment systems and logistics and trade facilitation”.

The programme provides ideas on issues to be considered by different stakeholders and success stories from around the globe which provide insight into other countries’
initiatives.

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