The eTransform Africa collaboration project and website has been established by the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the African Union to coordinate research on the transformation effects of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in different sectors of the African economy. The research team for the Trade and Regional Integration sector will take stock of emerging uses of ICTs in regional trade and integration and of good practice in this area in Africa. Its assessment will focus on national, regional and international practices, including ways in which ICTs are changing the business models of trade and international cooperation in the light of increasing globalisation of trade and recent initiatives in the management of national borders.
The study will focus on the following three thematic areas which are identified in the terms of reference:
* innovative use of ICTs for facilitation of efficient and transparent flow of goods and governance;
* the application of ICTs for promotion of efficient logistics and trade infrastructure support; and
* the use of ICTs in facilitation of public-private platforms and information systems to document and support the efficient flow of goods and services.
The research team will review the potential for ICTs to improve trade in goods and services across Africa, including the implications of broadband and mobile networks and the initiatives of Regional Economic Communities. The principal activity areas in the planned methodology are as follows:
A global scan will be undertaken to identify documented cases, lessons and best practices for the use of ICTs in regional trade and integration, with particular focus on the emerging use of ICTs for facilitating trade, supporting trade infrastructure, logistics and cooperation among key public and private sector organizations. This scan will, inter alia, assess best practices in the use of web, web-based service and XML based tools and other open standards that have potential for scalability.
ICT applications will be identified that have had significant impact in trade and regional integration in Africa or elsewhere and that have potential scalability.
The research team will assess constraints that affect ICT adoption in facilitating the flow of goods and services, supporting trade infrastructure and promoting cooperation and knowledge sharing among key players in Africa. This work will include review of the scalability of models and measures that may be undertaken to address constraints, including consideration of the roles of different actors and stakeholders (private, public, development community, etc).
Case studies on the use of ICTs in regional trade and integration will be undertaken in three countries - Botswana, Kenya and Senegal. As well as national issues, these country case studies will enable the team to examine and report on the role of Regional Economic Communities in advancing trade and regional integration in their respective regions - specifically the South African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS).
Background on the Transformation Ready programme
Objective: raising awareness about the potential of ICT to improve and transform different social and economic sectors in Africa; and stimulating action.
The overall study addresses eight aspects: Agriculture; Climate Change Adaptation; Education; Financial Services; Health; Delivery of Public Services; and Regional Integration and Trade.
This report is the first deliverable relating to the Regional Integration and Trade component - an outline landscape analysis of the issues, which also addresses opportunities and challenges
Regional trade and integration component: objectives
* To document the environment as a learning opportunity for African countries: where and how are ICTs being exploited in trade and regional integration?
* To document best practices that can be scaled up, emulated or adopted by African countries.
* To identify further opportunities that that can be exploited by African countries.
* To highlight challenges and risks, with initial recommendations on how these can be addressed.
* To make appropriate recommendations and propose frameworks to the Banks, governments and RECs.
The Regional Trade and Integration context is examined through three aspects of regional trade, each of which plays a critical part in trade performance and has potential for enhancement through ICTs:
Trade flows and customs: ICTs as a tool for governance of efficient and transparent flow of goods.
Trade logistics: ICT tools for facilitating logistics and supporting trade infrastructure, including those based on wireless and mobile technologies.
Trade information: Applications that are used for facilitating information exchange and coordination among multiple agencies.
A consideration of their implications for regional integration is also presented.
* Readers can access the Regional Trade and Integration Landscape Report (146 pages, dated 16 May 2011) here.
* Readers interested in outputs from other sectors ( Agriculture; Climate Change Adaptation; Education; Financial Services; Health; Delivery of Public Services) can explore the project website home page. Details on the eTransform Africa project can be obtained here.