E-business: Leveraging ICT to support the SDG on trade growth for least developed countries

2 May 2016 11:00h

Event report

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The session focused on the link between ICTs and SDGs for leveraging e-business in least developed countries (LDCs). Discussions focus on ways in which e-business can help achieve Goal 17.11 which calls for an increase in the exports of developing countries, in particular with a view to doubling the LDC share of global exports by 2020. The experiences of businesses in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Zambia, were also shared.

Mr Torbjörn Fredriksson (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) referred to the link between e-business and LDC export as more economic activities are moving online. He highlighted the effectiveness of ICTs in raising productivity, improving access to consumers and suppliers, and connecting LDCs to the global value chain.  

The spread of information makes some services tradable and products easier to deliver online. As e-commerce becomes crucial for SMEs in LDCs, he pointed to the need for improved connectivity and e-commerce solutions. UNCTAD’s aim is to reduce the barriers in LDCs through multistakehoder initiatives in the public and private sectors, to raise awareness, mobilise, and rationalise available financial and human resources. This helps address the challenges and constraints, and strengthens the activities among partners to exploit the benefits of e-commerce. UNCTAD’s work within the Private Sector Advisory Council is to facilitate on public-private initiatives.

The Universal Postal Union’s work on the interrelated online and offline issues related to trade are becoming clearer and more known to the public. Mr Paul Donohoe from the UPU emphasised that national postal services need to become accessible to everyone, and that national infrastructures for delivering services need to be improved, as they critical to both the private and public sectors.

The lack of buying power in LCDs requires partnerships between the private and public sectors to come up with solutions utilising ICTs to overcome the challenges.

Mr Mustafizur Rahman Sohel (Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services) shared the experience of his association in working with the government on policy reforms, capacity building, improving the deployment of ICTs in government facilities, and helping with industry branding. The association’s future plan is to improve Bangladesh’s rural Internet penetration rates, and promote the benefits of e-commerce. 

Mr Dulith Herath (founder and CEO of Kapruka.com) explained that his Sri Lanka-based company assists other SMEs with e-commerce solutions. He narrowed down the challenges of e-commerce to three issues: those related to import and export complexities, those related to payment collection, and those related to order fulfillment. Finding a solution for these challenges is what led to the setting up of a new company. Grasshoppers provides an online simulator that checks import/export issues, and facilitates a network that helps businesses overcome complexities, among other services.

Another company is Impact Enterprise, the first leading outsourcing company in Zambia. Mr Dimitri Zakharov explained the company operated with a social conscious and offered opportunities in areas such as content moderation, order management, and data entry.

by Nadira Alaraj