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Traders, consumers urged to embrace e-commerce

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Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts have emphasized the need for traders and consumers to embrace online shopping platforms as a way of maintaining trade while averting coronavirus.

This is coming at a time the government is putting restrictions on trading especially in main markets in the country and prohibiting production of some products such as beer that has raised an uproar among private sector players.

In an interview yesterday, ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam) president, Bram Fudzulani, said online platforms are a sure way of enhancing trade during this period. He said efforts are, however, frustrated by poor infrastructures such as network and that there are no proper links between banks, traders and service providers.

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“We have seen countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa embracing online shopping which has increasing trading even during this pandemic time.

“To date, there is no bank that has come clear to say we will support such initiatives where people could be buying online perhaps the Reserve Bank should provide the Natswitch platform that traders can access and allow for selling of various products,” Fudzulani said.

Managing Director of one of the online trade platforms called Alinafe Online, Mosses Chirambo, said major problem is the low internet penetration rate in the country.

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Chirambo said different types of security measures are employed depending on the level of scenarios. “Of course the uptake of such innovations is still low but the situation is improving gradually. “There is need to invest more into internet infrastructure, not only for urban population but also for rural masses.

E-commerce is one of the strategies that can be promoted to curb the spread of Covid-19,” Chirambo said. Malawi is among countries with the lowest internet penetration in Africa with only about 2,717,243 users as of December 31 2019 representing 14.2 percent penetration of the population.

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