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Tanzania has a way to negotiate e-commerce hurdle

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Tanzania , 15 Jun 2020

Tanzania is well-positioned to integrate into a global digital economy, but the lack of a national e-commerce strategy remains an obstacle.

This is according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which highlighted the country’s potential to become a leading contender in online trade in East Africa – especially within mobile finance and digital payments.

However, the assessment found that the country has neither mainstreamed e-commerce into its national and sectoral development plans or into inter-ministerial or public-private sector dialogue, further throttling progress.

The UN organisation also found that Tanzania lacks specific e-commerce legislation and that its legal framework is inadequate to create conducive e-commerce business environment, limiting trust among users of digital technologies.

Shamika Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s division of technology and logistics said, “The coronavirus crisis has brought to the fore the value of e-commerce and digital solutions in enabling economic activities and broadening options for consumers in times of lockdowns. E-commerce can help maintain trade flows, an important part of tackling the fallout from the crisis.”

The organisation has recommended several policy actions that the country could take to develop its e-commerce market.

These include crafting a national e-commerce strategy, enhancing ICT infrastructure, creating a conducive legislative climate and providing incentives to start-ups.

UNCTAD added that Tanzania is well-connected in terms of hard infrastructure, but that the cost of smartphones remains high, contributing to the low internet use of around 30%, among the country’s population.

The country’s government has not yet responded to the assessment.

Statistics from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) shows that the country has approximately 49 million active SIM cards.

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