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UN: Developing Countries Must Join eCommerce Revolution or Be Left Behind

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi delivers a speech during the opening session of the UNCTAD, in Nairobi, July 17, 2016.

More than 700 global leaders in business, government and civil society from 65 countries are meeting to explore the opportunities and challenges offered by eCommerce, with a special focus on developing countries.

The future of e-commerce could not be brighter. The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development or UNCTAD is kicking off “eCommerce Week” with new statistics, which show the global size of the market in 2015 reached $25 trillion.

UNCTAD Secretary-General, Mukhisa Kituyi urges developing countries to join the action and not be left behind in the eCommerce revolution.

“Those countries, populations and small enterprises, which have no presence on the digital platform are not only invisible, but they basically cannot grow, they cannot compete,” he said.

Kituyi says his own country of Kenya shows how the danger of being left behind by the digital phenomenon can inspire governments into taking political action.

He says four years ago, Kenya enacted a new law to provide every school child with a laptop. Since computers run on electricity, he says the government accelerated moves to make this service available throughout the country.

“In four years, more primary schools have received electricity in Kenya than in the preceding 55 years. So, the appetite for digital inclusion with sound policy can trigger investment in infrastructure for other purposes, which had been held back because of low political priority,” he said.

eCommerce week will feature panel discussions on topical issues such as cybersecurity and cybercrime, digital trade, and youth employment in the digital economy.

Luminaries, including Jack Ma, founder and chairman of one of the largest global eCommerce businesses, the AliBaba Group, will address the high-level event to offer insight into the transformational power of eCommerce.

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