Rwanda will, in July, host a continental summit to discuss opportunities for young entrepreneurs, particularly those in electronic commerce.
The summit was confirmed by Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, the secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, following his meeting with President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro, yesterday.
Speaking to the media after his meeting with the Head of State, Kituyi said President Kagame had accepted to have sessions dedicated to e-Commerce during the YouthConnekt Africa Summit.
This will be the inaugural YouthConnekt summit engaging the entire continent and will run under the theme, “Harnessing Africa’s Demographic Dividend.”
The summit will be co-organised by UNCTAD, the UN Development Programme and the Government of Rwanda.
The YouthConneckt initiative was launched in 2012 by the Government to reach out to young people across the country in multiple aspects, including access to finance, entrepreneurship, among others.
The summit, slated for July 21, is expected to attract over 2,500 delegates, including African Heads of State, the youth, global business executives and leaders from international development organisations.
The meeting will also be attended by the founder and chairperson of Alibaba, Jack Ma – who is also the special envoy for UNCTAD.
The main deliberations at the summit will aim to strengthen the opportunities for young small-scale entrepreneurs using electronic platforms.
“We will discuss concrete ways in which the commitment of what can be done is translated into steps of what is possible and to be realised for the benefit of young African entrepreneurs,” he said.
E-Commerce is seen as one of the key approaches in stepping up intra-Africa trade and enabling emerging entrepreneurs access wider markets.
Kituyi said e-Commerce can help get around challenges facing traditional enterprise efforts.
“One of the strengths of e-Commerce is that it leapfrogs the bottlenecks of trade. For example, electronic platforms reduce the challenges of roads in some aspects such as trade of services,” he said.
With sound pre-conditions such as a digital inclusion broadband, sound regulatory framework and political support, he noted, international opportunities are immense and can be realised faster than some traditional enterprises.
“We are not saying that it totally answers to the limits of intra-Africa trade but it will substantially boost particularly when the infrastructure issues are addressed,” Kituyi said.
In an interview with The New Times, International Trade Centre executive director Arancha Gonzalez said e-Commerce has a lot of potential in the country, especially with the increase of producers under the Made-in-Rwanda campaign.
She said this could see local products become competitive globally.
The Minister for Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs, Francois Kanimba, said Rwanda has already commenced promoting e-Commerce with the partnership of organisations such as UNCTAD and International Trade Centre.
He said this will further enable the growth of trade of local products that have been seeking international markets.
UNCTAD has been working closely with the government through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs to develop Rwanda’s trade policy, build capacities among other aspects.