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UNCTAD's E-Commerce Week

Developments in ICT connectivity is essential for e-commerce to flourish, according to United Nations conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Discussions centered around the theme “Development Dimensions of Digital Platforms” will be held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 16-20 April 2018. The fourth E-Commerce Week is expected to explore the role of digital platforms toward sustainable development and ways to harness these technologies. There will be a High-level Dialogue on the Development Dimension of Digital Platforms and two Ministerial Roundtables in addition to the second session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-commerce and the Digital Economy as well as many sessions organized by and with eTrade for all partners covering a wide spectrum of topics.

According to UNCTAD, “there is a lack of the robust infrastructure in developing countries needed to enable entrepreneurs to develop their e-business without being dependent on the giants of the digital age. Current gaps in connectivity and e-commerce readiness, between and within countries, imply that benefits are not equally distributed.” Unless adequate steps are taken to bridge the digital divide, it will only get wider.

Several developing countries remain relatively unprepared for the shift from offline to online trade with only 5% of the population conducting business online.  As such, initiatives such as the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway will be instrumental. With e-commerce growing in all parts of the world, governments need to include enterprise surveys on ICT use in their national statistical plans.

At the e-Commerce week, more than a 1000 participants from governments, business and communities will try to answer the major questions: what policies will make developments more inclusive and sustainable, what will help countries lagging in eTrade readiness to catch up and how digitalization can support gender parity. The goal of the conference is to find ways to reduce the increasing divide and marginalization that comes with this rapidly evolving sector.

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