African e-commerce forum set for March

London-based African IT Exhibitions and Conferences (AITEC) Corp. is hosting an African electronic-commerce forum in March of next year that is expected to lead to a green paper on the continent’s e-commerce development.

Backed by the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) the forum in Nairobi from March 8-10, 2001.

Called Africa E-Forum, the event is to culminate with ea.telecom, the annual East African telecommunications and broadcasting showcase.

The ATU hopes to complete the green paper by the middle of next year. The aim of the forum is to

develop a continent-wide e-commerce strategy, according to Jan Mutai, ATU secretary general in a written statement. The ATU wants to integrate the continent’s e-commerce development, he said.

E-commerce in Africa is nascent and faces bandwidth and infrastructure problems, but those can be resolved, according to the statement. He recommends that the summit examine how African diversity and creativity can be combined with the experiences of key e-commerce players on the continent to lead to a strategy for the future.

A key issue will be how to make e-commerce work without mass use of credit cards, which are not widely employed in Africa.

Regional banks, government central banks and insurance companies, ISPs (Internet service providers), emerging dot-com companies, ministries of trade and industry, credit-card vendors, telecommunications carriers, multinational companies, commodity trade organizations and publishing houses all are expected to participate in the forum.