Kenya to rally AU for e-commerce policy

Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed.
Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed.

KENYA and Ghana will next month present a proposal to the African Union's heads of state summit seeking debate and adoption of a proposed pan-african electronic trading framework.

The framework, whose development has been led by Ghana with technical support from regional trading blocs and the private sector, will facilitate cross-border transactions.

They largely include e-commerce, public procurement and payments especially from the diaspora estimated at $160 billion [Sh16.34 trillion annually].

The adoption of the framework will lead to formation of a company, largely owned the AU member states, to be known as Pan-African Trade Hub System.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade CS Amina Mohamed said the proposed platform will expedite regional and continental integration, strengthening the competitiveness of the Africa's trade system.

"It will enhance the speed in implementing what we intend to do [accelerate intra-Africa trade]," Amina said. "Kenya and Ghana will introduce this at the AU summit [next month] hoping that we get a slot. If we fail, we will do it in June. There will be a lot marketing going on before then."

The lobbying will centre on harmonisation of existing national and regional legal and policy frameworks.

The framework will seek to facilitate government to business, business to business and business to consumer transactions in goods and services, according to Ghana's Trade minister Ekwow Spio-Gharbrah.

He said the realisation of the project will help grow the underperforming infra-Africa trade, which stands at about two per cent of global trade and 15 per cent of African trade.

The Pan-African e-commerce platform will more or less be like China's Alibaba, the world's largest e-commerce platform.

"The system will help network commodity exchanges where the bulk of goods in one country can be sold and prevent loss coming from inefficiencies of the distribution channels," Spio-Garbrah said last week. "We recognise there will be risks with cross-border trade and that's why we have technical assistance to make this project a reality."