February Friday Breakfast (in cooperation with EPRN) on a Wednesday: Which role plays E-commerce in East-Africa?

This special edition of the Friday Breakfast took place on Wednesday, 12th of February. In cooperation with EPRN Rwanda, the FES Rwanda hosted journalists

FES Rwanda
FES Rwanda
FES Rwanda
FES Rwanda

In cooperation with EPRN Rwanda, the FES Rwanda hosted more than 45 journalists and discussed together with the moderator Fiona Mbabazi (Journalist, RBA) and the Discussant Director General of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (MINICOM) , Mr Jonas Munyurangabo, the topic “Which Role plays E-commerce in the Economic Development of East-Africa?”

In his opening remarks, DG Munyurangabo asked the audience who and how many of them have already used or are using E-Commerce services? Surprisingly, only a few participants of the discussion declared that they have had access to E-Commerce services before.

In a next step, the discussant started to define E-commerce as follows; Sells and supplies by the means of electronic transactions using internet platforms or mobile payments.

Accordingly, E-Commerce could be sorted in different sectors such as:

  1. Business for Consumers, focused on transaction between Company and indicium
  2. Between companies, selling to another partner
  3. Government to government > supplies public authorities; for example, IREMBO in Rwanda
  4. Government business, payment for government, pay online for taxes etc.
  5. Government to consumers, transactions
  6. Consumer to consumer > they interact supplying information and goods, for example Kigali life
  7. Business to employees > online calendar and meetings, giving assignments

In the following discussion, the wide range of E-Commerce in the business world between different partners was underlined.

Although, more than 50% of the world population might have already been connected with the internet, E-commerce is still not driving entirely the world economies.

Nevertheless, E-Commerce has the chance to become even more important – if more people will get (cheaper) access to the world wide web and other mobile solutions.

Already today, E-Commerce is growing – especially in developed countries like China, India, the USA, Germany and Japan and is dominated by few (mostly Chinese or US-American) companies.

Among the first 54 countries using E-Commerce services, there is not a single African country represented.The first one is Mauritius, holding rank 54.

The potential for more inclusive growth and a significant contribution to Economic transformation can therefore be predicted. Countries like Nigeria and South Africa are seen as the biggest and most important economies when it comes to African E-Commerce, this is driven by their connectivity rate, economic growth and the size of their population.

The Rwandan E-Commerce market is still facing some challenges.Today around 50 platforms are operating in Rwanda, mainly in the fields of food and electronics. 

With an own strategy, e.g;E-Commerce portal to boost Rwanda’s Trade the Rwandan Government is supporting the E-Commerce development in the country, not only for importing goods but also for exporting tea or other products (“Made in Rwanda”). 

In the discussion, the connection between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and E-Commerce was elaborated: especially to Goal 8 (Promoting Sustained Inclusive Growth and Decent Work) and Goal 9 (Building Resilient Infrastructure).

If E-Commerce could really contribute to more decent jobs cannot always been foreseen but physical presents at different markets might decrease soon: Digital solutions will connect more people and contribute to regional integration.

One of the main conclusions of the discussion was, that rules and regulations are needed to ensure Data protection and the need of building “Trust” among the E-Commerce Partners: the customers, the companies and the governments as important regulators of this “new” market place. Including the African Youth and teaching them more in digital awareness remains another important factor. 


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