Regional e-commerce strategy development for the Economic Community of West African States

In 2020, the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) requested UNCTAD to provide support for the development of a regional e-commerce strategy in ECOWAS.

In response, the E-commerce Strategy Development project has been developed by UNCTAD  with the objective to assist the Commission in its efforts to use technology to accelerate structural change and development, and foster regional integration, including through economic diversification, job creation, and more inclusive trade activities. 

The project is delivered through the UNCTAD E-commerce and Digital Economy (ECDE) Programme and is supported with funding from the government of the Netherlands starting in October 2021. 

Objective of the Project 

The strategy will provide a vision and a roadmap for the emergence of e-commerce across the region.

It will identify economic opportunities supportive of the Commission’s strategic goals and propose measures to address constraints and support e-commerce development in line with the role of the Commission to provide coordination and facilitation frameworks for Member States.

It will include an implementation plan with recommendations for short-, medium- and long-term measures across priority policy areas as well as governance, monitoring and evaluation frameworks.

The strategy will be developed through a consultative process involving a broad range of stakeholders at various levels (national, regional, and international) and across both public and private sectors.


The main activities include the appointment of focal points at the ECOWAS Commission, the WEAMU Commission, as well as national focal points responsible for the overall coordination and support of the strategy’s preparation in each ECOWAS Member State.

Other important elements include a number of kick-off meetings with the ECOWAS Commission and Institutions, with UN Resident Coordinators, with national focal points and with ECOWAS Mission to the UN in Geneva, a mapping of main stakeholders, including development partners and e-commerce/digital initiatives, and a mapping of existing regional initiatives.

The diagnostic stage of the project will result in the preparation of a regional eTrade readiness assessment, reviewing and building upon previous UNCTAD eT Readies, and a study on the e-readiness of WAEMU Member states. On this basis, the regional e-commerce strategy for ECOWAS will be developed and subsequently validated.

Link to the SDGs

The project is linked to SDGs on promoting decent job creation and the formalization and growth of MSMEs (8.3), increasing access of smallscale enterprises to financial services, including affordable credit (9.3), increasing access to ICT (9.8), and increasing exports of developing countries (17.11).

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation will follow the requirements of UNCTAD, with regular monitoring integrated in the project implementation.



The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)


The Netherlands


The ECOWAS Commission

ECOWAS Member States: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo.

National departments and agencies






E-commerce and the digital economy E-commerce and the digital economy