Kenya reaps from digital infrastructure

Kenya’s digital economy contributes an estimated 7.7 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, a growth that is attributed to the public and private investment in digital infrastructure and e-commerce start-ups.

The United Nations Conference on Trade Development (UNCTAD) Director, Division on Technology and Logistics Shamika Sirimanne said the $43 million raised in the year 2020 by 13 e-commerce start-ups and mobile money innovation in the country is an indication that Kenya is reaping benefits from the use of digital devices and services.

Speaking virtually during the National launch of the Kenya e-Trade Readiness Assessment at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete, Nairobi, Sirimanne said the increase in adoption of e-commerce and social commerce amongst small businesses has made Kenya to consolidate its lead role as an African front runner of digital transformation and a leader in e-commerce.

She, however, noted that for the country to excel in e-commerce, the government should increase the uptake of e-commerce in rural areas, as well as address the challenge of a national addressing system to secure the delivery of goods.

“There is a need to address the challenges of insufficient deployment of digital skills in the workforce, especially among women and persistent cybersecurity threats, as it weakens the trust in the use of mobile money,” said Ms. Sirimanne.

She assured of UNCTAD’S commitment to support Kenya in developing a national e-commerce strategy alongside the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) that will ensure that e-commerce developments contribute to the country’s vision of a digitally empowered citizenry.

UNCTAD will conduct a three-day retreat with core group stakeholders representing 27 key public and private sector entities for the purpose of developing a national E-Commerce Strategy for the country, which will help in undertaking the necessary reforms as well as serve as an example in the African continent.

“The experience of Kenya can inform the development of regional and continental policy frameworks aimed at supporting the digital transformation of African economies, including the negotiation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the development of an e-trade protocol.

In his remarks the GIZ Portfolio Manager, Country Office Frank Holtmeier said it is important for countries to have a thorough overview of their own digital preparedness and ecosystem to enable them to adapt to the new normal during this period of post Covid digital era.

He announced that Germany has financed 16 e-Trade Readiness Assessments out of the overall 29, as they have proved to be a useful compass for countries to respond to the sector’s needs in a quick and effective manner.

“We are pleased to have contributed to this important groundwork for Kenya, having financed this already for Kenya and the subsequent preparation of a national e-commerce strategy in collaboration with UNCTAD,” said Holtmeier.

He also referred to the country’s M-PESA digital currency as a poster child of transformational African digital innovation, adding that e-commerce is an essential part and enabler of economic growth that creates employment and increases trade and socio-economic welfare.

“The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development will continue to support Kenya in its journey towards excelling in the area of e-commerce supported through GIZ’s Pan African e-Commerce initiative.



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