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UNCTAD: Bangladesh to get e-commerce boost through digital foundation

  • Published at 11:36 am April 3rd, 2019
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The fifth edition of the high-profile gathering of UNCTAD is taking place at the Palais des Nations at the UN's office in Geneva, Switzerland

Bangladesh needs to put in place a comprehensive national e-commerce strategy and improve delivery logistics, according to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report. 

A Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessment completed by UNCTAD – at the request of the Bangladesh government – pinpointed improvements in telecommunications infrastructure, trade logistics, payment solutions, laws and regulations, skills development and financing, which can accelerate e-commerce throughout the country.

The report, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), was presented to government representatives Monday, during an event on the opening day of UNCTAD's eCommerce Week 2019, to be held from April 1-5, reports UNB.

The fifth edition of the high-profile global gathering is taking place at the Palais des Nations, the UN’s office in Geneva, Switzerland.

"All commercial activities are going to be digital," Minister of Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology Mustafa Jabbar said after receiving the assessment. "All current business laws, regulations and policies will be made compatible with the digital commerce revolution."

Shamika N Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD's division on technology and logistics, said: "It is fantastic to see the great strides that Bangladesh has taken to prepare for a digital future. But this e-Trade Readiness Assessment also recognizes there are growth and employment gains that are yet to be made by a comprehensive pivot to e-commerce.” 

The report assessed that the government had undertaken public-private dialogue and collaboration in matters of digitization in an exemplary manner.

The report further says: “Digital Bangladesh initiative – supported by the A2i initiative under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division – is a part of the Vision 2021 national development plan.

A2i is the umbrella initiative that has shepherded growth in the ICT sector and the overall digital ecosystem of the country.  

Since it started its journey in 2010, the ICT sector has grown at an amazing average pace of 40% a year. The tech sector fits naturally in the country's development trajectory to create jobs for the 110 million population of under-35-year-olds.

Connectivity remains a priority, with 65% of Bangladesh's people living in rural areas, the report says.

Recognizing all barriers to business from an "ecosystem perspective" – thus supporting e-commerce in a comprehensive national strategy – will help more people lean towards e-commerce and better address the digital discrepancies between urban and rural areas.

Improved trade logistics, such as better postal services and secure payment modes, are also required, the report says.

Companies engaged in e-commerce should consider affordability of internet services as a top priority, it notes.

The theme of this year’s week, which comprises dozens of sessions, is “From Digitalization to Development.” 

Since the launch of the Rapid eTrade Readiness programme in 2016, UNCTAD has undertaken 17 assessments for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Togo, Uganda, Vanuatu and Zambia. With the support of key donors – Germany, the Enhanced Integrated Frameworks and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation – another eight countries will benefit from the program in 2019.

 The eTrade-for-all initiative, a multi-stakeholder partnership that helps developing countries find information and resources on e-commerce and the digital economy, supports the preparation of the Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessments.