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Report exposes e-trade gaps

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Sosten Gwengwe

A recent report on Malawi’s readiness for electronic trade (e-trade) has unveiled glaring gaps, indicating that more should to be done if the country is to become competitive.

Findings of a study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) show that there are hitches in seven relevant policy areas which need to be addressed if the country were to enjoy e-commerce.

The areas include e-commerce readiness assessment and strategy formulation, ICT infrastructure and services, trade logistics and trade facilitation, payment solutions, legal and regulatory frameworks, e-commerce skills development and access to financing.

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“The overall e-commerce enabling environment in Malawi faces challenges hampering its further development. The main challenges include the population’s lack of trust in online systems, low level of Internet access by the population, low technology adoption by firms, lack of access to financing and weak IT skills across the population,” the report reads.

The report has outlined that, in the era of massive technology across the globe and Africa specifically, Malawi is losing a lot for dragging to implement technologically-advanced ways of growing the economy.

Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe admitted that the country faces myriad challenges to implement e-commerce singling out lack of finance.

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He, however, said that government has put an inter-ministerial committee from different sectors which will work towards rectifying the problems highlighted in the report.

“Our key challenge is finding resources to be able to roll out these kinds of programmes but we cannot just stop; so, our approach is that we should start because e-trade has various aspects, some of which we have already done such as having a trade portal,” he said.

Commentators have been saying Malawi is yet to benefit from opportunities arising from e-commerce.

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