Electronic commerce to boost intra-African trade

E-commerce. Shopping cart with cardboard boxes on laptop. 3d

The African Alliance for Electronic Commerce calls on the countries of the continent to streamline trade with a view to strengthening their competitiveness in the global market.

By Achille Mbog Pibasso

The facts are striking. Africa represents barely 2% of world trade. Intra-African trade is also not well-advised, averaging 12%, with disparities from one region to another. While Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018 is 3.5% according to the World Bank.

A real problem for the African economies, faced with many difficulties among which the insufficiency of electricity whose access rate is about 30% to which we can add the virtual absence of the physical infrastructures and immaterial.

Meeting in Yaounde, Cameroon, from 17th to 19th September 2019 as part of the 7th International Conference on Single Windows, the member countries of the African Association for Electronic Commerce (AACE) with the support of institutions and organizations As the African Union (AU) and the World Bank (WB) have reviewed, there are many aspects to improve e-commerce and intra-African trade.

Under the theme « Unlocking the potential of e-commerce and optimizing the international logistics chain of landlocked countries », it has acted for some 20 member countries and 300 participants made up of eminent experts including those from the World Trade Organization. the World Customs Organization (WCO) or the United Nations Conference on Trade (UNCTAD), floor on ways to improve trade in Africa.

For the president of AACE, Isidore Biyiha, who is also the General Director of the Single Window of Foreign Trade Operations (GUCE) of Cameroon, the time has come for African countries to take their destiny into their own hands.

And for good reason, « the context wanted this 7th International Conference on Single Windows to be held at a pivotal moment in the history of the African continent with the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ZLECAF). As we know, this Free Trade Area « aims to create a single market for goods and services and to facilitate the movement of people and goods ».

That is to say that beyond the specificities of each state, it is especially question for the African countries, to opt for a common, harmonious and united development. The aim is to deepen economic integration in line with the pan-African vision of an « integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa » ​​promoted by the African Union.

The African Continental Free Trade Area

« Today, by maintaining the mold of our common actions, and scrutinizing the horizon of economic integration and emergence, we have the means to register in a real odyssey. Our ideas, our exchanges, our solutions constitute the necessary energy which must allow, at the end of a successful propulsion, to enter orbit. We must rise to this challenge by giving current generations of engineers, computer scientists, logisticians, transport economists and international lawyers the terms of an exciting challenge to invent, in support of our approach, appropriate and exponential solutions, « he said.

Ten years after its creation, ACAE claims various achievements, among others: the development and publication of a guide of implementation of one-stop shop in Africa, organization of awareness raising workshops on the concept of Single Window of Foreign Trade in several countries: Niger, Uganda, Burundi, Egypt, Malawi, Chad, Liberia, Botswana, Guinea Conakry, implementation of pilot projects for electronic exchange of certificate of origin in UEMOA and CEMAC zones, impact assessment single windows through the peer review mechanism, establishment of a centralized document exchange platform and information portal on trade formalities (statistics, costs, actors …)

Opening the proceedings on behalf of Cameroon’s Head of State, Paul Biya, Trade Minister Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, commended AACE for efforts to improve trade across the continent, insisting that « the problem physical infrastructure that arises could be bypassed through electronics.  »

Through plenary sessions and workshop sessions, the participants made the commitment to espouse the economic integration context promoted by the African Union through the ZLECAF. The objective being as far as possible, to get African countries to trade better and to reduce imports which constitute a huge obstacle to Africa’s economic development.

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