UNCTAD eWeek 2023 | The Inclusion of African Women and Ecommerce (Ecommerce Forum Africa)

The discussions emphasized the need for targeted interventions, policy support, digital skill enhancement, and inclusive practices to bridge the gender gap in digital entrepreneurship across Africa.

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The session titled ‘The Inclusion of African Women and Ecommerce‘ featured diverse voices from Africa who discussed the challenges and opportunities in empowering women in digital entrepreneurship. Here is an overview of the key takeaways:

Lobna Mansour – Breaking barriers in Egypt

Lobna Mansour shed light on the barriers faced by Egyptian women in digital entrepreneurship. Issues like lack of digital skills, payment fears, and limited internet access, especially in rural areas, hinder their participation. However, solutions centred around digital skill development, soft skill training, and specialized courses in new technologies like AI were proposed. Mansour emphasized that addressing these barriers could unlock the potential of women entrepreneurs in Egypt’s e-commerce market.

Laura N Naliaka – AFCFTA and digital trade opportunities

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) protocol on digital trade was hailed by Laura N Naliaka as a game-changer for promoting women’s participation in e-commerce across Africa. Negotiations focusing on digital infrastructure, cross-border data transfers, and payments were highlighted. However, the digital divide, particularly in internet access, poses a challenge. Advocacy, implementation, and awareness were deemed essential to harness the potential of AFCFTA for women entrepreneurs.


Nagwa Ibrahim – E-commerce empowerment in Africa

E-commerce was recognized as a powerful tool for women’s empowerment in Africa, reducing barriers to entry and enhancing economic inclusion. However, challenges persist, including limited digital skills, internet access, and concerns about online payment methods. Strategies involving UNCTAD support, digital skill targeting, and advocacy for AFCFTA protocols were proposed to overcome these hurdles.

Terfa Ashwe – Tailored support for African women

Digital skill gaps and finance access were highlighted for African women entrepreneurs, emphasizing tailored support and mentorship programs. Evidence-based policies and collaborations were suggested to address these challenges, promoting targeted interventions for unique business needs.

Karen Nadasen – Gender equality & financial inclusion

Karen Nadasen underscored the gender gap in banking and the importance of private-public partnerships in digitization. Flexible payment solutions, inclusive hiring, educational opportunities, and representation were proposed to empower women and promote financial inclusion.

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