Digital skills required to overcome Covid-19 trade impasse
In addressing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of many entrepreneurs, Department of Trade, Industry and Competition export promotion director Luke Govender said digital skills need to be bolstered.
He spoke during an October 20 webinar, hosted by Trade Forward Southern Africa, on UK export market opportunities and compliance.
He said women entrepreneurs, and especially those in the informal sector, were most affected by the pandemic.
Many companies have shifted their businesses to e-commerce platforms as a result of the pandemic and Govender said women entrepreneurs have struggled to develop their online and digital skills. This was especially the case for women when it came to developing skills for marketing and selling their products and or services on the Internet, or even selling their products on e-commerce websites.
“Shocks or disasters like Covid-19 have laid bare the need to leverage digital technologies to develop a concerted export strategy and to consider targeted and diversified export markets,” he noted.
Therefore, to capture value from digital trade, digital entrepreneurship must become the central focus, said Govender.
Further, he said businesses needed to acquire the necessary skills and information to be resilient in the face of the Covid-19 impasse.
“[The] importance of digital skills has been ever increasing, but the pandemic has brought urgency to the fore. The digital skills that were considered to be additional skills have now become one of the necessary skills to possess in the export ecosystem to stay competitive in the global market,” he said.
Meanwhile, Govender pointed out that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement covered trading goods and services, investment intellectual property rights and competition policy; with the second phase of negotiations including digital trade, among other elements.
“The protocols on women and e-commerce are key to ensure that the AfCFTA and the trade governance agenda contribute meaningfully in a competitive digital economy,” he said.
“Both the future of Africa and global trade depend on providing entrepreneurs, especially women and innovators, with the tools they need to realise their business dreams,” concluded Govender.