Strengthening capacities of West African countries to harmonize e-commerce legislation in the region

02 December 2014

​UNCTAD delivered a Small Private Online Course to lawmakers and government officials from selected West-African countries on key aspects to be considered for the drafting of e-Commerce laws.

UNCTAD launched a multi-year project in the ECOWAS region in 2013, which aims to build the capacity of law and policy makers in support of the e-commerce legal harmonization process in the region, notably in the area of e-transactions, cybercrime and data protection.

As part of this project, and in cooperation with the ECOWAS Commission, UNCTAD's TrainForTrade programme ran a Small Private Online Course (SPOC) on the legal aspects of e-commerce from 13 October to 14 November 2014 in English and French.

In total, 126 participants passed and received a certificate. Women constituted 24% of the 141 French speaking and 33 English speaking professionals who registered from eleven ECOWAS countries in West Africa namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.

UNCTAD conducted the training course simultaneously in English and French, with local tutors facilitating the online delivery through its e-learning platform.

The course covered the following issues:

  • Regulating e-commerce
  • The legal validity of electronic communications
  • Consumer protection
  • Protecting intellectual property assets
  • Content regulation
  • Taxing e-commerce
  • Privacy online
  • Securing e-commerce

Overall, the participants found the content to be well researched, presented and targeted to their own and their countries' needs.

Through the weekly online chats and the forums provided on the platform, the participants also appreciated the opportunities to discuss pertinent issues with other participants in the region and with the subject matter experts.

Participants attending the course

The training course will be followed by face-to-face courses in June 2015 where the nominated participants will also get a chance to participate in the Expert Meeting on Cyberlaws and Regulation for Enhancing E-commerce including Case Studies and Lessons Learned.

UNCTAD will publish a report on the state of e-commerce legislation in the ECOWAS region at the end of the project, as part of the recommendations made by the participants in the training.

The African Union Commission, the International Telecommunication Union and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law partnered with UNCTAD in the implementation of this project.

TrainForTrade is a Programme of the Knowledge Development Branch, and the E-commerce and Law Reform programme is a programme of the Science, Technology and ICT Branch, both under the Division on Technology and Logistics.