The East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) has given Rwandan representative Dr James Ndahiro a go-ahead to introduce a private member’s bill on electronic transactions that, if passed, will enable traders cut the cost of doing business.
Ndahiro yesterday told Sunday Times that the EAC Electronic Transactions Bill, 2014, which is supposed to make provision for the use, security, facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and transactions, will benefit Rwandan businesses.
“Rwandans will benefit in at least three important ways. The first is in reduced transaction costs whereby, if you are doing cross-border business, there are things you can do at your desk in any part of Rwanda without need to travel. Contracts can be exchanged on-line and money is saved,” Ndahiro said.
He said such legislation will also reduce costs of doing business but also important is the innovation that comes with new technology. Most sectors in the region including agriculture, and industry, he said, require ICT in order to grow more and provide adequate and efficient automated services.
Modern day business is all about electronic transactions; thanks to the internet and its applications, and as such, appropriate legislation is expected to make such deals secure and valid by implementing some terms and conditions that parties involved will agree to.
According to a related Eala communiqué, the bill wants to promote technology neutrality in applying legislation to electronic communications and transactions; and to develop a safe, secure and effective environment for the consumer, business and the governments of the partner states to conduct and use electronic transactions.
Ndahiro, also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zigama CSS, explained that “this bill will improve all sectors and attract investment.”
“Apart from that, it will also improve our competitiveness globally,” he added.
In the region, he said, Uganda is in the process of promulgating a similar legislation while Kenya has a bit of it in its ICT framework.
“And in Rwanda, we’ve a law that focuses on electronic commerce but it would be more useful if there is a regional framework,” he explained.
Ndahiro said: “It makes no sense if someone in Rwanda was transacting business but the other side which you are transacting business with has no law.”
He told Eala that it has been established that the EAC needs to maximally exploit the great resource of ICTs, thus ensuring that businesses and institutions have access to modern technologies.
It is on that basis that the Bill is being put together in order to meet the need of exploiting electronic transactions in modern business deals that have become common.
On Thursday, Eala members including Nancy Abisai (Kenya), Valerie Nyirahabineza (Rwanda) and Nusura Tiperu (Uganda), welcomed the idea of the Bill.
Nyirahabineza described the bill as timely in the region’s quest to reduce bureaucracies; while Tiperu noted that it is in line with the desire to promote sharing of information and cooperation through technological advancement.
Mike Sebalu (Uganda) noted that the region had embraced the digital era and said the Bill is relevant to the region’s transformation agenda. MP Patricia Hajabakiga (Rwanda) remarked that EAC stood to benefit through increased competitiveness.