South African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and larger organisations can benefit significantly from the enhanced exposure, both local and international, that e-commerce affords them. In order to fully exploit the opportunities that e-commerce offers, there is a need for collaborative support between the government and industry to bolster the growing field. E-commerce could also be key in addressing issues around economic inclusion in South Africa, in particular the empowerment of women and the poor. However, it is not without its limitations. E-commerce policy and interventions in terms of regulation, education and infrastructure are needed. In order to do so, data analysis of the current e-commerce market in South Africa using both public and private data sources is imperative. Policy interventions will go a long way to shape regulation around digital cross-border trade, increase digital inclusion through education and training, and provide better infrastructure that supports the e-commerce industry and its role in developing the South African economy. This discussion paper breaks down these areas, looks at a number of policy considerations and offers some possible solutions.
Author: Adheesh Budree