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Info minister launches e-commerce facilitation system

Oct 2, 2013, 12:41 PM | Article By: Isatou Senghore Njie

The minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure yesterday launched the E- Commerce Facilitation system supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

The system being piloted in The Gambia and Ethiopia, aims at providing a platform that will compete with some of the best e-commerce platforms for SMEs.

The system was developed by a local consultant in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

Speaking at the launching ceremony held recently at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi, Minister Nana Gray Johnson in his launching statement, said the growing ICT sector in Africa, particularly wireless and mobile technologies, have created immense interest in enhancing socio-economic development in general, and the business environment in particular.

“The scope of applications for development is wide, and can reach a large number of people with enormous impact, noting that wireless communications can provide the platform that can make digital data transfer possible in many developing countries.”

According to him, the technology has therefore facilitated the advent of m-commerce, a new form of electronic commerce brought about the rapid growth of wireless communications in many African countries.

He added that m-commerce is commonly referred to as buying and selling of goods and services using mobile phones.

“The projects are to develop a web/mobile based e-commerce applications to act as platform for the marketing and facilitation of commercial transactions of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMEs), especially operated by women, and the new web/mobile based products and services could meet national or international market standards to enable businesses gain visibility nationally, sub-regionally and internationally.”

He added that the applications developed by the Gambian and Ethiopian consultants will ultimately be disseminated to all African countries.

His ministry will encourage all stakeholders in The Gambia to put this application to use towards the realization of economic gains, he said.

For his part, Abebe Chekol, a representative from UNECA, told the gathering that the initiative, which is being implemented in The Gambia and Ethiopia, is therefore one of the efforts to take the benefits of ICTs into the communities and enable them exploit the global market opportunities through e-commerce.

“It is estimated that for 2013, the value of retail web sales 2 globally will be $963 billion while business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales 3 for 2013 will be $1.3 trillion,” he said, adding that e-commerce is growing fast which is evidence in that Amazon’s net sales from 2001 to 2012 has grown from $2.5 billion to $61 billion with over 43% of this sale outside north America.

This initiative, according to him, therefore comes at an opportune time for The Gambia to exploit new and emerging technologies to enhance its socio-economic development.

As tourism contributes about 15% of the GDP of the country, growing the e-commerce sector would be in the best interest of the country’s economic development agenda, he said.