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Nigeria, others lag behind in e-commerce legislation

By , ITWeb
Nigeria , 12 Feb 2016

Nigeria, others lag behind in e-commerce legislation

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a recent assessment of the state of e-commerce legislation in West Africa shows that only two countries - Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire - have adopted prescribed laws in all of the six specific areas of e-commerce legislation.

The six areas - electronic transactions, data protection and privacy, cybercrime and cyber security, consumer protection online, online content regulation and domain name - were developed after a series of workshops and consultation with lawmakers and government representatives from the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members.

The need to harmonise e-commerce legislation became a priority for the region following the noticeable strong growth of electronic transactions within the bloc which prompted an objective to achieve a vision of creating a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive community built on good governance.

This resulted in the ECOWAS's request in 2013 for UNCTAD to support it in its efforts to create a harmonised legal framework.

Senegal is the next in adherence having fully adopted four of the laws and one partially. Though almost all other countries had adopted legislation in at least one of the areas, Nigeria, as a giant e-commerce country, has fully adopted only one of the laws - online content regulation – and two others partially while three are still in draft.

More could have been expected from Nigeria which concluded the implementation of a cashless policy across its 36 states last year to improve the payment system and grow the e-commerce sector as most of the e-commerce businesses now accept payments.

Just this week, the Director of Banking and Payment System at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dipo Fatokun, disclosed that the volume of e-transactions in the country has risen by 43.4% as of December 2015 with a value indicating an increase of 11.6% while the value of the actual loss to fraud dropped by more than 60% (from N6.21 billion in 2014 to N2.25 billion in 2015).

He cited the introduction of the Bank Verification Number, the two-way authentication factor, and the improved security features on the electronic payment channels.

UNCTAD says a key challenge the countries face in adopting e-commerce legislation according to government reps consulted is a lack of understanding of the legal issues related to the different areas. More than three-quarters said this was true for the legal issues related to privacy, more than two-thirds for those related to e-transactions and cybercrime, and over half for those related to consumer protection.

Nothing has changed in the assessment's result since released in December, says Cécile Barayre-El Shami, UNCTAD's Programme Manager on E-Commerce and Law Reform. She also confirmed that UNCTAD will be organising an E-Commerce Week from 18 to 22 April in Geneva with a focus on "Emerging e-commerce topics and trends" where a high-level round-table will explore the perspectives and challenges of various stakeholders.

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