UNCTAD to foster digital economy in small island developing states | Sunday Observer

UNCTAD to foster digital economy in small island developing states

14 August, 2022

UNCTAD has launched a new project to strengthen the capacities of 38 small island developing states (SIDS) in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia and the Pacific to adopt trade policies that develop the digital economy and enhance crisis responses.

Digital technologies and e-commerce have immense potential to support the participation of SIDS in international and regional markets. They can also help build resilience and promote stronger recovery from disasters.

But the digital economy is in its early stages of development in SIDS, whose common challenges to digital transformation include limited access to affordable infrastructure.

And the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced pre-existing bottlenecks in SIDS’ e-commerce ecosystem.

The project, run by UNCTAD’s TrainForTrade program, aims to develop the skills and knowledge of targeted SIDS’ representatives with innovative approaches based on a recognised blended learning method and state-of-the-art technological solutions.

“This new project will draw on the experience of our previous blended learning activities,” said director of UNCTAD’s division on technology and logistics, Shamika N. Sirimanne.

“We are proud to work in collaboration with our other UN partners to ensure that SIDS will be better placed to harness the digital economy,” she added. The project has three training components geared towards providing holistic support.

Its “legal aspects of e-commerce” component seeks to enhance the capacities of lawmakers, government officials and other stakeholders involved in drafting electronic commerce laws.

Adequate legal frameworks can facilitate the transition to a digital economy, reduce uncertainties, enhance trust and address potential harms. “An adequate legal framework and digital identity system are needed to facilitate the uptake of e-commerce and the transition to a digital economy,” said first secretary at the Permanent Mission of Barbados to the UN in Geneva and previous chair of the SIDS group, Shani Griffith-Jack

The “digital identity for trade and development” component is aimed at increasing knowledge on solutions to implement e-commerce at the policy level and for small and medium-sized enterprises.

A secure and reliable digital identity system is critical to enabling citizens’ full participation in their society and economy. The component will also cover risks and challenges related to digital authentication.

The “digital economy statistics” component will increase knowledge in this area and enhance statisticians’ work on data related to the digital economy. - UNCTAD