As long as the cost of Internet facilities and services remains high, Uganda says it will not be able to favourably compete in electronic commerce with the developed world.
Until the least developed countries (LDCs), including Uganda are in position to fairly compete in the digital space, government will remain opposed to regulation that disadvantages the participation of poor nations in electronic trade.
Electronic commerce or e-commerce is a term for any type of business, or commercial transaction that involves the transfer of information across the Internet.
According to Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde, “…the need for multilateral rules on e-commerce is still too premature to be thought about.”
Speaking last week at the panel discussion whose theme was promoting connectivity for LDCs, Ms Kyambadde said, LDCs have basic infrastructural challenges to deal with in building their e-commerce readiness.
She said: “There is no level playing field. Reducing the digital divide would require a closer look at the cost of services such as data, infrastructure, and regulatory and institutional frameworks.”
In her presentation as one of the panelists in a discussion held as part of the activities for the Sixth Global Review of Aid for Trade at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, Ms Kyambadde argued that there is need to address issues of access, availability and affordability of ICT services and related products before rules are thought of.
In Africa, about 25 per cent uses Internet as opposed to nearly 80 per cent in Europe; 65 per cent in Americas and 66 per cent in the CIS (Canada).
In terms of households with Internet use, only 11 per cent are in LDCs against the 83 per cent in the developed world. Ms Kyambadde said: “The digital divide is huge. Therefore there is need to bridge it...”