Good afternoon and we are very happy to welcome you to this session.
I am Sarah Carroll and I am author of my new Amazon UK bestselling book ‘Grow Fast, Grow Global’. I’m also founder of Grow Global, a digital training and strategy company based in the UK, where we show businesses how to grow internationally using digital strategies like e-commerce, e-marketplaces and s-commerce. I’ve worked with over 700 companies 1:1 and had over 4,000 delegates through my webinars, seminars and workshops. And it was looking back at these 5,000 odd businesses that lead me to write Grow Fast, Grow Global – working out why some companies had grown tenfold and why some had not even started.
We have a great panel here today to talk about what we can do to boost e-commerce skills in Africa drawing on some amazing best practice ideas and beacon projects in different countries.
I’d like to introduce our panel:
Kehinde runs Crenet Tech Labs, a digital agency in Nigeria to get businesses online and performing, looking at their online brand, building their websites and carrying out digital marketing.
Alastair is the CEO of the membership association Ecommerce Africa Forum which is encouraging e-commerce and shaping policy across Africa.
George Kwadwo Appiah
George is a technopreneur and the founder of Kusami Hive in Ghana, tech and business hub. It is a not for profit venture, driving innovative tech start-ups to grow fast based upon digital training.
Monsieur Mohamodou Arabani Saibou
Is Director Generale at the Ecole Superiere Multinationale des Telecommunications in Senegal which is training up the next generation of digital experts.
Our main question for today is to discuss how the digital economy and e-commerce and digital trade has changed the way we conceive and understand skills and knowledge for business development and promotion?
We have heard in nearly all the sessions so far that digital skills is one of the foundations of a successful e-commerce strategy in Africa.
So let me just put this in context for a couple of minutes.
The population of Africa is set to grow from 1.25 billion at the start of 2018 to about 2.5 billion by 2050 according to the UN population prospects. This means Africa will have half of all world’s population growth. Nigeria will become the third largest country in the world after India and China.
As we’ve heard already, the participation of African countries in the digital economy is limited, but growing fast.
We know there is a digital divide. The ICTSC 2018 Bridges Ahead stated that poor ICT literacy, in particular skills related to e-commerce as a barrier and the International Trade Centre report clearly depicts that there are low levels of digital literacy in Africa. We may also be missing the point, by focusing just on ICT skills, as running a successful e-commerce business relies on much more than just tech skills these days, which are generally ‘brought in’.
This being said, the shortage of digital skills is worldwide, not just in Africa alone. At the UNCTAD E-commerce Week in April, some of the biggest e-commerce platforms in Africa mentioned that they had to import most of their digital skills from outside of Africa. Furthermore, the new Afri Shopping report looking at African e-retailers says that only 30% of all African e-commerce businesses are profitable.
However, the Agenda 2063 The Africa We Want aims to put the continent on an equal footing with the rest of the world, having an integrated e-economy.
McKinsey state that the e-commerce economy in Africa will rise from $8billion in 2014 to $75 billion in 2025.
So let’s get into our discussion on how we can rise to the challenge to urgently boost e-commerce skills in Africa?
With all this opportunity ahead, and so many digital native youngsters, we must have the right e-commerce skills and know-how to actually make this happen to put one of the key e-commerce building blocks in place.
What can we all do to put the right support in place to take advantage of the digital revolution and give African citizens and businesses a digital livelihood?
They will answer questions on how best we can develop e-commerce skills in Africa.
So let’s start with Kehinde:
What special skills are needed to fully participate in e-commerce?
And do you think that traditional learning models and skills are still relevant in the digital era?
How can SMEs be best prepared and coached to building the skills they need to flourish?
How do we build and nurture partnerships to achieve economies of scale in skills development?
What are some of the new learning models to consider?
What is the experience of national technology hubs and accelerators?
And M Saibou:
What role is there for learning organisations like yours to build skills needed for e-commerce development?
What are the main challenges and how are you addressing them.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Let’s broaden the discussion.
Mr Samatar Abdi – Centre de Technologie et de l’Innovation pour the Developpement in Djibouti
We’ve reached the end of our time for our panel on e-commerce skills today.
1. E-commerce is a very new industry in Africa
2. Skills is the foundation of e-commerce – from kids to pensioners and all from business and governments
3. E-commerce skills must encompass more than just ICT or even digital marketing skills, as it takes much more to run an effective e-commerce business
4. E-commerce skills extend from softer communication, language and cultural skills, through enterpreneurial and business skills to coding and programming technical skills
5. We need to consider more than just B2C e-commerce (selling products to consumers) and broaden skills development out to B2B, and make sure we consider services and digital products too
6. The African education system needs to undergo a massive regeneration and be bought into the 21 century
7. We need to remember that there are loads of e-commerce resources and videos available for free on the internet and individuals and business must take responsibility too – the focus should be on learning, not education – ‘e-commerce starts at home’!
8. Much progress can be achieved on the e-commerce front when partnerships work together – from academic organisations, through private enterprise and government for example.
The organisers are going to pull together all these ideas into an action plan to develop e-commerce skills in Africa and feed them into the e-commerce strategy for Africa.
If you have any questions for our panel, we will be around to take individual questions.
Thank you very much to all our great panellists and questions from the floor.
Thanks for your time and have a great day.
Speech delivered at the African Union E-commerce Conference, Nairobi, 24 July 2018
Skills development for the promotion of e-commerce
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