NEWSLETTER ISSUE #4/2017       

TRADE partners with the ICTSD to study the digital economy in Southern Africa

Over the past few months TRADE has been working with the Geneva-based ICTSD (International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development) on a study of the digital economy and how the fast pace of development in the digital arena is impacting trade and economic development in Southern Africa. Very little economic activity these days is possible without some form of digital element, and many people view the digital economy as being practically indistinguishable from mainstream economic activity. Southern Africa trails behind other parts of the world in terms of digital preparedness, but the almost unprecedented ‘mobile’ revolution that has gripped the region in recent years is very encouraging and could signal the start of a new era in Southern Africa’s development.

On 22 and 23 March 2017, four members of the TRADE research entity (in photo: Dr Marie-Luce KühnProf Sonja GraterProf Wilma Viviers and Ms Ali Parry) presented papers at a conference convened by the ICTSD in Stellenbosch, Western Cape whose theme was ‘Leveraging services and digital potential for inclusive economic growth’. The conference attracted policymakers, sector specialists, academics and development consultants from a number of African countries and was a follow-up to an earlier regional workshop staged in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2017 at which Prof Grater had shared some of her research findings in a presentation titled ‘Services, inclusiveness, SMEs and the SDGs’. On 24 March 2017, the TRADE team then joined a roundtable discussion in Stellenbosch organised by the ICTSD and Tralac which solicited participants’ views on how South Africa should adapt its trade policy to leverage the power of the digital economy in order to bring about a more equal and sustainable society.

Still on the digital economy theme, Prof Viviers was one of the guest speakers at a workshop organised by the ICTSD and the permanent mission of Kenya in Geneva, Switzerland on 12 July 2017. The theme of the workshop, which formed part of the broader WTO Aid for Trade conference programme, was ‘Aid for digital trade: needs and responses’. Commenting on the challenges facing Southern African countries in their attempts to embrace digital technologies, Prof Viviers said that it was particularly important for policy and regulatory frameworks to keep pace with technological developments and e-commerce norms in other parts of the world.


Archive newsletters

Issue #3/2017

Issue #2/2016

Issue #1/2015