Businesses in Cameroon are poised to take advantage of new proposals to boost their digital economy.
The Commonwealth is helping the country to put in place effective legal, policy and regulatory frameworks for e-commerce that would help to diversify the economy, create employment, reduce poverty and integrate Cameroon into the multilateral trading system.
A new draft strategy for e-commerce development was presented to stakeholders at a week-long consultation from 28 May – 1 June.
"It must be acknowledged that in this sector, the existing possibilities and opportunities for economic operators still remain largely underexploited, but this will be different with enhanced access to digital technology," said Magloire Mbarga Atangana, Cameroon's Minister of Trade.
He added that the government would review the draft strategy, and identify possibilities for developing the sector, in particular by supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Currently, limited local banking systems hinder small businesses in Africa from expanding their trade beyond national borders.
“It is worthy of note that the last decade was marked by a remarkable increase in e-commerce development in our country with internet penetration rising from 2 per cent in 2006 to 18 per cent in 2016," the Mr Atangana said.
Like many Commonwealth countries, Cameroon has seen rapid growth in in e-commerce due to more people using mobile devices to access the internet.
The innovation hub known as ‘Silicon Mountain’ in Buea, in the South West part of the country, incubates young tech start-ups and houses a growing community of developers and designers, contributing billions of dollars to the economy.
Commonwealth Trade Adviser Opeyemi Abebe said: “Electronic commerce is becoming increasingly important in the global trade ecosystem.
"Developing countries which are able to harness this technology and provide adequate support to the digital landscape though appropriate policies and technology infrastructure have been able to fast track the participation of their SMEs in electronic commerce.”
The Commonwealth’s assistance will enable the country to harness its human capital and digital competencies to grow its participation in the digital trade value chain in Central Africa and the continent.