PUBLISHED ON June 15th, 2023

Government to Facilitate Digital Trade with Private Sector through e-Commerce Platforms, says Commerce Minister Chipoka Mulenga

Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga says government is coming up with a facility that will allow trade between government and the private sector to be done on digital e-Commerce platforms.

Mr. Chipoka says digitisation of businesses is critical in providing ease of doing and limiting the cost of doing business.
The commerce minister disclosed this during a Roundtable discussion dubbed “Accelerating the Recovery of COMESA Member States from COVID19 focusing on Green Investment, Value Addition and Tourism”

He added that digitisation and the use of e-Commerce in doing business further limits human interaction which also results in stopping corrupt activities.

“We believe that digitisation of how we do business is critical on how we provide ease of doing business, limiting the cost of doing business and limit also, human interaction which also results in stopping, to a large extent, corrupt activities in government. We are also coming up with a facility where trade between government and the private sector should be done on a digital e-Commerce platform where there is no acquisition of delays coming in from human activities,” said Mr. Chipoka.

He added that the COVID19 pandemic that affected many African countries reminded most African governments of the need for homegrown solutions to socio-economic challenges.

Mr. Chipoka said it was against this background that government deliberately established the Ministry of Science and Technology stressing that innovation is something that societies have to depend on.

He said in order to achieve digitisation, government has chosen a principle not to reinvent the wheel.

“We have economies that have reached the point where we want to go. So, we are engaging within the region with colleagues such as Egypt, South Africa and others that have really migrated a step further ahead of us and beyond us. We are interacting with colleagues even outside the region like England, Turkey, the US, China and others, so that we build resilient and strong policies that will cushion us and protect ourselves from the effects of COVID and other challenges that may come without knocking,” he said.

Mr Mulenga disclosed during the ongoing COMESA summit in Lusaka during the minister’s round table meeting that Starlink has been given license to operate internet services across the country 24/7 without using towers

The minister said this will enhance ICT Skills among the Zambian citizens.

“This will also help reduce the cost of doing business,” said Mr. Chipoka.

He said that Zambia is committed to improving the internet connectivity throughout the country.

Speaking at the same event, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe said there cannot be talk about expanding market productivity, value addition value chains without a common position and harmonization.

Ms. Kapwepwe said the role of COMESA in the region is critical in bringing the countries together and also to look at designs for interventions, programmes, and projects, which can now speak to the needs of African countries.

“The role that we (COMESA) play is critical in the sense that you cannot talk about value change across different countries, when there is no harmonization,” she said.

Ms. Kapwepwe also disclosed that COMESA is there to support even private sector investments through various harmonisation programmes.
“So, all those business chains come together to ensure that we create solutions that are practical matter, even to the private sector, who go out and conduct business and do the trade,” she concluded.

And Trademark Africa Chairman Erastus Mwencha commended the role Private Public Partnerships (PPP’s) play in financing capital investments in Africa.
Mr. Mwencha, who is also former COMESA Secretary General, said PPP’s provide frameworks to close financing gaps in capital projects.

He added that there was need for African governments to develop policies that will allow PPP’s to operate freely and profitably.

The Roundtable discussion was an event climaxing the 16th COMESA Business Forum held in Lusaka ahead of the 22nd COMESA Heads of State Summit to be held at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.

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