In the AfCFTA context, e-commerce is mainly composed of digitally-enabled transactions of trade in goods and services that are physically purchased and delivered within individual economies and markets. E-commerce in Africa is often focused on business-to-consumers (B2C) transactions.
On 10th February 2020, African Union Heads of State and Government Assembly gave the AfCFTA secretariat the mandate to negotiate on an e-commerce protocol under the AfCFTA. The protocol which is also referred to as the protocol in Digital Trade was scheduled for Phase III of the negotiations and was fast tracked in January 2021. Negotiations for a digital trade protocol under the AfCFTA provide a unique opportunity for member states to operate under harmonised digital economy regulations with the goal of collective economic growth from a trade perspective.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) in 2020 identified about 630 B2C e-commerce marketplaces operating on the continent. It is in this same context that the ITC and the EABC under its One Trade Africa Programme agreed to set up the My East African Soko (myeasoko) platform that seeks to leverage digital technologies (web portal, mobile apps) to support the recovery, build resilience and drive future growth of Women and Youth Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). Additionally, “myeasoko” aims to profile youth and women businesses and provide market opportunities to the youth and women across the East African Regions and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).