LCCI urges MSMEs to leverage e-commerce under AfCFTA
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has inaugurated its e-commerce sectoral group to support the development of private enterprises in various sectors of the economy by exposing their products to a larger market base.
With the operationalization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the chamber stressed the need for businesses, especially the MSMEs, to leverage e-commerce as a route to market and competitive advantage.
LCCI President, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, during the virtual inaugural ceremony recently, said the group would boost investors’ confidence in the Chamber’s advocacy activities aimed at developing private enterprises.
Mabogunje, represented by the chamber’s Deputy President, Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, said that the e-commerce sector has witnessed significant growth in recent years on the backdrop of strong market fundamentals and renewed forces of globalization.
She noted that the private sector was currently facilitated by emerging digital technology, supportive of content creation, distribution, and consumption, and a growing middle class in Nigeria and most of sub-Saharan Africa.
The LCCI president, however, noted that despite the growth, there existed huge untapped potential in the sector.
“To unlock these inherent opportunities, critical issues such as weak digital infrastructure, intellectual property rights, and high-cost conditions and regulatory constraints must be addressed.
“We acknowledge the appreciable efforts of the Federal Government to support the development of the sector.
“This was demonstrated by enactment of Cybercrime Bill 2015 as a legal framework for prohibiting and preventing fraud in electronic commerce.
“The overarching goal of the law is to protect e-business transactions, company copyrights, domain names, and other electronic signatures in relation to electronic transactions in Nigeria.
“Though the law has given some level of comfort to consumers, businesses and investors need to do more to ensure the protection of transactions and contracts.
“The purpose of establishing this group is to give the investors in the sector a more prominent recognition in our evidenced-based advocacy to canvass for an enabling environment for the e-commerce sector,” she said.
In her remarks, LCCI Vice President, Mrs Mojisola Bakare, stated that the launching of the group was significant and timely against the backdrop of the lockdown and restrictions on physical congregation induced by COVID-19.
Bakare said the pandemic had enhanced the situation whereby business transactions were initiated, conducted and consummated electronically using several of the emerging digital trading and financial platforms with limited or no human contacts.
She noted that e-commerce, as an offshoot of general commerce, was pivotal to value chain activities across all sectors as it facilitated private enterprise development and remained the catalyst for sustainable commercial and economic growth.
“The Economic Commission for Africa, through its African Information Society Initiative (AISI), has identified E-commerce as one of the four key areas in Africa to best advance social and economic development.
“This assertion underscores the need to deepen the development of the e-commerce ecosystem for better outcomes in terms of Business-to-Business integration, Business-to-Consumer facilitation, E-commerce Intellectual Property Rights among others.
“This platform has been created for cross-fertilization of ideas among the E-commerce actors/industry players to aggregate issues that the LCCI will advocate for market-oriented reforms, policies, and interventions.
“In addition, it will provide networking opportunities and linkages for growth across the value chain,” she said.
Chairperson, Jumia Nigeria, Mrs Juliet Anammah, and the inaugural Chairperson, E-commerce group LCCI, noted the needs for players in the sector to work together to attract the government’s attention to the needs of the sector.
Anammah, represented by Seyi Oni, Head, Legal Group, Jumia Nigeria, said a move such as this would ensure governmental provisions with regards to addressing regulatory affairs leading to a more conducive business environment.
Director-General, LCCI, Dr Muda Yusuf, said the sector which he described as evolving, fastest-growing would work together with the government to address regulatory bottlenecks experienced by private enterprises.
“A lot of transactions are taking place online, but there is a need for regulatory parameters to ensure investments do not go to the wrong hands, among other things.
“This requires the private sector advocacy and intervention to discuss and escalate these issues to the appropriate authorities.
“Hence, the need for the creation of a formidable voice such as this for the sector,” he said.