King Mswati III of eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland) has called for African nations to unite in creating their own digital market that will promote ‘made in Africa’ goods and services.
The king believes that all African stakeholders should work together to shape the continent’s digital transformation, using the means at their disposal.
He made the remarks on the occasion of the first Africa Integration Day and the launch of the African e-commerce platform taking place in eSwatini, according to the newspaper Swazi Times in its Tuesday edition.
The king said the continent’s post-COVID-19 recovery would be based on a collective response and there was a need to take the occasion of the first Africa Integration Day celebration as the appropriate moment to pledge commitment to come out as a united force that would shape the global post-COVID-19 environment.
The monarch said the social enterprise approach of the African e-Trade group was aimed at uplifting all Africans so that they could be meaningful players in the digital economy.
The African e-Trade Group is a social enterprise initiated by a group of African, multi-stakeholder and multi-talented professionals and entrepreneurs.
The African e-Trade Group works to empower the African digital economy and this work focuses on a trading platform and capabilities that boost African trade and African exports. Actually, the regional headquarters of the African e-Trade Group for Southern Africa and West Africa have been awarded to the Kingdom of eSwatini and the Republic of Guinea respectively, two member states of the African Union.
“What is important is that we should be organised, coordinated in order to avoid duplication of efforts and resources, and to reach tangible results in the most efficient manner. This is so much more necessary in light of the global pandemic we are faced with,” he said.
The King said he was looking forward to the opportunities for women and youth that would be unlocked through the group’s initiatives.
He said there was a need to empower these sectors to create innovations that could be tested and connected to the continental platform so that the continent could create African millionaires more easily than before.
“We want these innovations to be registered and protected, and this is part of the work that will be done in research and innovation centres at each of the regional headquarters. We want women and youth to be leading in the boardrooms across the continent, as they are now leading more and more in the political and civil society sphere,” he said.
The African e-Trade group top leadership will comprised more than 50 per cent of women and given its sector, they believe it would attract a lot of young professionals and create about 30 000 jobs, when it has reached full operations.
He said these initiatives were impressive because they provided a holistic approach but that it would not have the desired impact if stakeholders on the continent did not support it.
The King said in the kingdom of eSwatini had made substantial progress in establishing the regional office to serve Southern Africa and that the country had already started to register Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the platform and encouraging them to link up with their peers across the continent.
“Let Africa have its own large branded platform, equivalent to the likes of Amazon and Alibaba, promoting the production and trade of ‘made in Africa’ goods and services, including quality standards and intellectual property rights. We are waiting anxiously to hear the name of the African e-commerce platform that will be announced by our chairman (Cyril Ramaphosa),” he said.
The King said he was calling upon all the leaders across the continent to support this social enterprise that would have 600, 000 SMEs trading on the platform in four years, creating 22 million jobs.
He also asked for support for the initiative that would focus on changing the mindset of entrepreneurs from a survival mode to a competitive sphere; strengthen e-government services so that “we can deliver more to the people.”
The King accepted the responsibility to lead the establishment of the African heads of state advisory council to provide oversight and guidance to the African e-trade group as it rolled out the platform across all regions on the continent.
“We are united in our conviction that we need African designed and led solutions to solve our continental problems for the Africa we want. We can only rest when all 55 countries are on board and have created a truly integrated marketplace,” he said.
The King then unveiled the name of the new tool called ‘afrisnap’ that was designed by the African e-Trade group.
He said the name was selected by young people and it was easy to remember, and already available for use by any country that wished to do so.