Malawi is far from competing with countries in the world on e-trade due to poor infrastructure, high Internet costs and connectivity challenges, a government official has said.
But trade experts have challenged the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism to move with speed to embrace e-trade, describing it as the future of global trade which needs to be financed using local resources.
A draft report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) has highlighted challenges and recommendations for Malawi to make progress on e-trade.
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism spokesperson Mayeso Msokera, in a written response on Wednesday, said the objective of the Unctad Malawi study was to provide the country with a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the country’s readiness to engage in and benefit from e-commerce and develop a framework on e-trade.
He said Malawi needs to rectify the challenges so that it can improve on Unctad e-commerce ranking from the current rank of 140 out of the 152 countries.
He said: “E-commerce will lead to reduced cost of doing business, increased convenience and increased customer satisfaction.
“It will also assist Malawi to come up with a clear negotiating position at the World Trade Organisation in the upcoming negotiations.”
Msokera said there are challenges that need to be addressed to derive full benefits from e-commerce, including inadequate infrastructure, limited connectivity of the majority of the population and high Internet costs.
National Working Group on Trade Policy chairperson Frederick Changaya said in an interview on Wednesday that the country needs to tap into opportunities that come with e-trade.
He called upon government and other stakeholders to embrace e-trade as it remains the future of trade globally.
“If we don’t adopt e-trade we will lose out big time because the future of trade lies on e-trade,” he said.
The report indicates that affordability and quality of Internet and last mile connectivity remain critical concerns, observing that policy and regulatory factors make information and communications technology concentrated, with only two main mobile operators and few Internet service providers.