Digital infrastructure is the key to stimulating the development …

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(MENAFN – Mid-East.Info C) airo, Egypt: Building a comprehensive digital infrastructure is imperative to realize Africa’s enormous economic potential, says senior advisor at the International Trade Center – the joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations.

“Making e-commerce a success on the African continent is a challenge. Only about 11% of platforms in Africa accept electronic payments, and others process cash, ”said James Howe, Senior Advisor at the International Trade Center, at the first Egypt-International Cooperation Forum (Egypt- ICF) in Cairo, launched by the country’s Ministry of International Cooperation.

Howe added that through trust, the continent’s digital development will be accelerated. “The biggest challenge is trust – a scarce commodity. It is important to develop confidence to solve the problems on the continent, and this will help facilitate an environment for e-commerce in Africa, ”he explained at a workshop titled“ African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Prospects and Challenges of Digital Trade for the Private Sector ‘at the start of the second day of Egypt-CIF.

During the workshop, HE Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat, Egyptian Minister for International Cooperation, underlined the vital role of international cooperation in Africa: “the political will is present; the need at the moment is to improve infrastructure and engagement at national, regional and international levels.

“While the development of roads and digital infrastructure cannot be overlooked, it is also important that we focus our energies on SME development and youth development in Africa while accelerating trade by boosting trade finance and infrastructure across the continent, ”she said.

The workshop explored the central role that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can play in enhancing the private sector by participating in digital trade. In addition, he discussed how regulators and private sector partners plan to tackle data exchange, including across borders, amplifying concerns about use and use. data abuse, privacy protection, digital security, intellectual property protection, regulatory scope, competition policy and industrial policy. .

In his address, Ing. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), highlighted the role of partnerships in Africa’s growth. “We must mobilize all resources – financial and human – to achieve our overall goals for the continent. At the same time, we need to see innovation and the use of digital tools to help farmers improve their yield. “

“We are working closely with the Egyptian government to effect all trade transfers using modern technology. Egypt has made exceptional efforts to accelerate digital transformation, ”added Sonbol.

Emphasizing the need for a competitive landscape, Hon Ebrahim Patel, South African Minister for Trade, Industry and Competition, said: “It is essential that the competitiveness and dynamism of our markets are improved so that we can attract foreign investment to our economies. . Bold and ambitious steps must be taken, and digital technologies will open up new avenues to boost the African economy. “

Elaborating on the need for digital commerce, the Hon. Dr Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning of Nigeria, said: “AfCFTA presents the best opportunity for Africa to benefit from e-commerce and digital commerce. We have seen the benefits of the booming digital economy in Nigeria.

Ahmed added that there is a huge opportunity to boost trade through e-commerce and digital channels – not only in Nigeria but in the intra-African region. He explained that the country is working in partnership with different banks and agencies to develop the local agricultural value chain, which has significant regional potential.

The AfCFTA is the largest free trade agreement in the world, encompassing 54 African countries with a market of $ 3.4 trillion and a population of 1.3 billion. The AfCFTA is a platform for consolidating e-commerce rules and regulations across the continent, and its ultimate goal is to establish Africa’s own integrated digital marketplace. The World Bank estimates that the deal – together with necessary reforms – has the potential to lift 30 million people out of poverty.

Dr. Sidi Ould Tah, Managing Director of the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), said: “Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need the support of all stakeholders – and they are the one of the four main pillars of BADEA’s strategy. Our vision is holistic and we believe that all stakeholders should work hand in hand for overall development. “

Steve Lutes, Vice President of Middle Eastern Affairs at the United States Chamber of Commerce, also provided an overview of the Chamber’s efforts to support commerce on the African continent.

“We are fully committed to creating opportunities for economic reform and standing up for Africa. With digital transformation accelerating, it’s time to engage African governments on digital policies and build on cross-border trade.

Jamie MacLeod, trade policy researcher at the Africa Trade Policy Center (ATPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said the African continent has a lot of potential that has yet to be unlocked. . “As digital transformation has accelerated in parts of Africa, especially during the pandemic, he also laid out the building blocks in other parts,” adding that adoption of innovation would generate both value and investment.

Aymen Kasem, Division Manager – Trade Development at the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), said: “AfCFTA is a game-changer for Africa. The continent’s digital trade is a challenge that must be addressed in an integrated manner.

Dr Ahmad Mukhtar, Senior Economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa, said: “While all calls for digital platforms are good, it is essential to have an infrastructure – from Cairo to Cape Town.

The harmonization and complementarity of ambitions across the continent will support the acceleration of its development.

In summary, Ahmed Rezk, from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) regional office in Egypt, said: “Having the right mix of policies is essential to foster the use of technology, skills development and the strengthening of future industrial skills – including advanced technology – to create a win-win situation for everyone in Africa.

About the Egypt Forum – International Cooperation :

Egypt – International Cooperation Forum (Egypt – ICF) is a two-day global event that brings together the international community to foster a sustainable recovery through multilateralism.

Organized by the Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation, the Forum is being held in Cairo, Egypt, September 8-9, 2021 in a hybrid format – allowing for both physical and virtual participation.

Egypt – ICF provides a unique global platform in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, to bring together international policymakers, multilateral and bilateral development partners, private sector stakeholders , civil society and think tanks to collaboratively revive international cooperation through economic diplomacy in the post-pandemic era.

The Forum aims to foster collective international engagement to accelerate the transition to a green and inclusive global recovery, catalyze social mobility in Africa and tackle climate change.

Egypt – ICF is co-organized with leading international development institutions including: United Nations, World Bank Group, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

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