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Egypt plans to double size of e-commerce industry by 2020

Egypt plans to double size of e-commerce industry by 2020.
Government's new strategy crafted in partnership with private sector partners has identified untapped potential.

The Egyptian government has presented its plan to harness online trade opportunities in a new national e-commerce strategy that it developed in partnership with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and private sector players that include payments company Mastercard. The strategy aims to double the footprint of businesses selling products and services online in the country by 2020.

Yasser El Kady, Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) shared details of the plan during UNCTAD’s 4th annual E-Commerce Week in Geneva which ends today.

“E-commerce offers developing countries like Egypt opportunities for inclusive growth and enhanced market access. Small and medium sized enterprises are the engine of growth, hence leveraging e-commerce can bring great benefits. Egypt hopes to be among the top 30 knowledge economies by 2030. We have been investing big time in information and communication technology infrastructure over the last three years, including, for example, in 5G networks,”

El-Kady added that he counts Egypt’s young population and its network of 4,000 post offices as well as its logistical and micro-financial infrastructure as competitive advantages.

Research conducted as part of the strategy found that Egypt needs to establish an authentication framework for e-payments, such as 3D secure, adopt universal banking, create new payment methods, and strengthen e-money products such as mWallet in order to achieve its goal. The strategy also advises that awareness of e-payments be raised through lucky draws and through the adoption of a zero liability policy for customers in unauthorized transactions among other interventions.

Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General at UNCTAD shared more reasons on why the Egyptian market is well placed for a burgeoning of e-commerce.

“Egypt has a consumer market of more than 90 million people, most of whom are younger than 30 years of age and increasingly technology-savvy. Internet penetration stands at 37.8 percent, implying one of the largest populations of prospective online shoppers in the Arabic-speaking world. However, due to several barriers and challenges, e-commerce has been slow to take hold, and its potential is still largely untapped.”

UNCTAD has emphasized that the e-commerce strategy for Egypt is one that can be replicated in other developing countries as it focuses on common challenges that need top be tackled in order to develop the ecommerce industry like the rollout of Information and communication technology infrastructure and telecom services, the introduction of conducive laws and regulations, skills development and building talent as well as e-procurement among others.

Khalid Elgibali, Division President for the Middle East and North Africa region at Mastercard has lauded the Egyptian government’s effort.

“We applaud the progress of Egypt’s National E-commerce Strategy, which highlights the government’s commitment to strengthen the economy and connectivity to global markets. Mastercard will continue to support the execution of the strategy to further advance the payment ecosystem and showcase the benefits of digitization in the country. The National E-commerce Strategy is a testament to our shared goals of a more inclusive, effective payments ecosystem."

A survey on E-commerce Usage in by Households and Individuals conducted by Egypt’s ICT Ministry found that the age group of 15–29 years comprised more than 50 per cent of total online shoppers in the country, while Egyptians in the age group of 33–44 years accounted for more than 30 percent of online shoppers.

Statistics for 2015 showed that daily visitors of e-commerce websites in Egypt amounted to 12  million–18 million, in contrast to news websites, which attracted 17 million–20 million visitors per day.

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