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Digital trade is key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential (by Ope Babalola)

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 Digital trade is key to unlocking Africa s economic potential by Ope Babalola
Digital trade is key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential (by Ope Babalola)

1 By Ope Babalola, CEO of Webb Fontaine (WebbFontaine.com) Digitization brings new opportunities in commerce and creates the potential to sustain resilience in times of crisis.

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2 The digital transformation of customs and borders in Africa could improve process efficiency and generate trade gains on the continent of $20 billion a year (https://bit.ly/3cXzIgY).

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3 With digital commerce in place, pre-existing infrastructure bottlenecks can be addressed, efficiencies exploited, and innovative solutions leveraged.

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4 However, countries in Africa vary greatly in their readiness for digital trade.

5 In African countries where economic resilience must be fostered, jobs must be created and entrepreneurship must be facilitated, digital trade must be in full swing.

6 How digital automation is facilitating the flow of trade Thanks to advances in technology, importing and exporting goods and services in Nigeria has become easier thanks to the rise of online international trade management portals (https://bit.

7 .ly/3cWv8j1).

8 These online portals automate the experience for many stakeholders, including customs officials, companies that import finished goods and raw materials for manufacturing, and those that export their products around the world.

9 Blockchain technology, artificial intelligence (AI), next-generation payment solutions, fraud detection and prevention, and warehouse management solutions are helping to increase the ease of commerce, streamline border management, and identify and potentially overcoming problems that impact deadlines, logistics and transportation.

10 The use of such a platform, such as the Webb Fontaine Single Window for Trade, provides customers (https://bit.ly/3d8IwAC) with a wide range of up-to-date information, including trade formalities, import procedures and export.

11 , most recent tariff codes and rates, as well as tariff simulation functions.

12 Businesses can complete pre-arrival applications, official documents (such as customs declarations, permits and licenses), applications and manifests, while ensuring that all fees and taxes are covered through the electronic payment functionality in the same place.

13 Acting as both a transactional portal and a data collector, the Single Window can cross-check credentials for consistency and traceability, reducing errors and fraud.

14 The status of ongoing document processing can be viewed in the Single Window at any time, even on mobile devices.

15 Ensuring trade flow in the face of any challenge Trade’s digital automation has proven to be a valuable safeguard in the harshest of conditions.

16 During the COVID-19 pandemic, many industry experts predicted a decline in the fortunes of the import and export industry due to the effects of global lockdowns on supply chains (https://pwc.to/3P11HK7) .

17 By leveraging import/export platforms like the Single Window, Nigeria was able to weather this storm while operations continued unabated.

18 While many borders were closed, Nigerian ports remained open thanks to customs operations running through online trading platforms, and the nationwide lockdown had no negative impact on import/export revenue collection (https ://bit.ly/3QjM0Pc).

19 The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) posted a record increase in revenue, generating 1.5 trillion naira (https://bit.ly/3zBCEYr), its largest revenue ever generated in a single year.

20 Not only was this a testament to the positive impact that digital transformation and automation have had on NCS operations, it inspired other agencies to pursue automation and digitization.

21 It also made it clear to the federal government that more could be done, setting the NCS a target of 3.01 trillion naira (https://bit.ly/3bshzYx) in revenue collection by 2022.

22 The flexibility offered by digital platforms import/export have increased the agility of SMEs across the continent.

23 The platforms are easy to use and customs officers and traders are empowered to operate from anywhere, if they have access to a computer or mobile phone and an internet connection.

24 How digital commerce platforms are giving SMEs an edge One of the many lessons learned from the pandemic (https://bit.ly/3vJp6ZD) is that SMEs need to embrace digital transformation, not just to overcome unplanned challenges , but because it will help them be more competitive and stable.

25 Digital enablement is not just a means of survival, it is a way for SMEs to conduct business more efficiently, which in turn can empower them to further expand their operations and profits.

26 By being more agile than their corporate counterparts, SMBs can quickly rethink their marketing strategies and adopt new technologies to improve their offerings faster.

27 Digital innovation offers extraordinary opportunities for SMEs. It allows them to implement new market models, have a greater line of sight into their business, improve traceability and meet with their customers, service providers and logistics partners, in many cases, all on the same page.

28 In the digital trade space (https://bit.ly/3bzcEoC), solutions such as import/export platforms, automated cargo tracking, and digital non-tariff barrier reporting can provide efficient cross-border trade that level the playing field for SMEs. significantly.

29 This, in turn, is good both for the customers and communities they serve, and for economic growth on the continent at large.

30 This growth stimulation is crucial as SMEs in Africa are well positioned to solve some of Africa’s most critical challenges (https://bit.ly/3BOwbw5) by creating much-needed jobs, products and services.

31 Presence in Africa The success stories of these import/export platforms have led to their increased use in Africa.

32 Webb Fontaine, for example, has seen them used by customs departments and companies in Benin, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Guinea.

33 As more countries and businesses embrace automation, the potential for their growth through trade expands.

34 Digital automation of business processes can play a crucial role in leveling the playing field for African nations in international trade.

35 Whether it’s moving goods through ports or airports, technology has a proven track record of making operations smoother and easier to execute.

36 It is something that all companies and governments should adopt if the countries of the continent want to take advantage of their potential for economic growth as investment centers.

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