Review of e-commerce legislation harmonization in the Economic Community of West African States

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has adopted several regulatory frameworks that govern electronic commerce with the aim of creating a harmonized legal environment in the area of e-transactions, data protection and cybercrime.

In order to support their domestic implementation, UNCTAD, in cooperation with the ECOWAS Commission, has organized a series of capacity-building workshops to assist Member States in developing harmonized legislation on electronic commerce.

This Review relies on data received from regional workshops and distance learning courses organized in the ECOWAS region from 2013 to 2014. It provides an informed assessment of the state of e-commerce legislation in the region, identifieschallenges and makes specificrecommendations towards furthering harmonization within the region.

In addition to the transposition of ECOWAS instruments at the national level, the need for additional work in the areas of electronic signatures, consumer protection and taxation procedures was recognized by Member States in the framework of UNCTAD’s project.

A call for more capacity-building initiatives for policymakers, legislators, the police, the judiciary, prosecutors and computer emergency response teams (CERTs) as well as the strengthening of enforcement agencies with emphasis on regional cooperation are part of these important recommendations.

Since 2000, the UNCTAD E-commerce and Law Reform Programme has provided support to developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean through capacity-building training workshops including briefings of parliamentarians, assistance with preparing and enacting legal frameworks and regional reviews of e-commerce legislation harmonization.

UNCTAD is proud to support the ECOWAS and its Member States in their efforts to achieve harmonization.