The COVID-19 pandemic augmented the case for e-Commerce in East Africa as nations were forced to adapt to measures to curb the spread of the virus. Companies had to find alternative means of conducting their business and going online was a lifeline for most. e-Commerce offers many benefits for businesses that are brave enough to venture online such as low start up costs, wider customer base, and lower transaction costs.

While cross-border e-Commerce is already happening in the region, it is not without challenges. It is unregulated and in danger of reducing consumer trust in online shopping. Other challenges stifling the growth of e-Commerce include the high cost of logistics, quality control issues, high transaction costs in mobile payments, lack of postal addressing systems, and cash on delivery. To foster trust and create an enabling environment requires targeted interventions at the national and regional levels to create a safe environment for online shoppers. This is what formed the rationale for developing a regional e-Commerce strategy.

In 2021, the Pan-African e-Commerce Initiative (PeCI) supported the EAC to develop a regional e-Commerce strategy. The strategy comprises six pillars geared towards improving framework conditions and harmonizing laws and regulations that are critical in enabling cross-border e-Commerce in the region. Partner States must implement the strategy and allow e-Commerce to thrive.

Photo: Mali Lazell_GIZ