Digital Trade Platforms: Africa Focus

We explore the key drivers for digital solutions to international trade and the evolving support structures that aim to help businesses to grow internationally. Since we find these digital platforms at the epicentre of change, there needs to be a focus on digital export providers and market place, to export with a digital trade platform.

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Photo by Ono Kosuki on

Actionable Insight
To use expert digital tools to turn online export success ambition into reality, this needs to be supported by time studying markets, trends, emerging best practises and online tools and platforms.

Case study (Europe): COBCOE Connect provides a digital marketplace which is effective for Chamber and International trade companies. It is an effective tool to provide detailed information to shape strategy for taking Trade Missions and complements the personal guidance and network provided by the Chambers.

COBCOE works with its members, affiliated organisations and corporate partners to advance international trade and business.

Disruptive Tech: The Rise of Fintech and Going Global
Emerging technologies e.g. Big Data and Analytics, Blockchain with a great potential to transform the landscape, would need a regulatory framework to function effectively. Also Cybersecurity risk needs to be central to business operations.

The rising world of Fintech that is changing the financial landscape and responding to the demands from business to provide relevant alternative financial solutions to grow their business.

Ecosystem on how Banks could work with Fintech startups
Case study (UK): Example given – RBS is using EzBob digital platform to make SME funding decisions in 15 mins. The rise of Challenger Banks: There are now more than 40 and Atom Bank was given as an example. Also the impact of Israeli fintech startups on innovation in the UK financial sector.

Africa Focus

Going Global – Policies, Platforms and Regions – exploring how three key drivers for digital solutions for international business collide and interlink.

Mobile banking in Africa, with over half of active mobile wallets in the world in Africa , while over half of the adult population has a mobile phone and access to 3G. But there are many challenges still to overcome, from interoperability to regulatory reform.

Trade business processes worldwide are adopting digitization to increase efficiency, decrease operational costs and increase business margins. There is a need for a Framework, to have the right structures and capabilities to enable digital trade.


March 2018 marked the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement by the majority of African countries. This agreement opened the way for increased intra-African trade, and also enhanced the continent’s appeal for prospective investors.

As a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, the AfCFTA will bring together 55 African countries with a combined population of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) exceeding US$2.5 trillion, making the continent the largest free trade area created since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Problem issues:
How can we leverage the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to push for digital regulation and an enabling environment?
• Which available digital technologies can be readily adopted locally/regionally and how will they facilitate seamless regional trade transactions?
• What models would work best to achieve scalability?
• Can technologies such as Block Chain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) be adopted regionally? Are these solutions to de-risk trade transactions and improve settlement challenges?

Inter-Regional Africa Banking

While there has been the emergence of thriving e-commerce platforms in countries such as Nigeria and Kenya, these are usually limited to local markets and are yet to be largely adopted for regional trade. Today, intra-African trade is only 16% of total African trade.

Although the share of intra-African trade as a percentage of total African trade has increased from 10% in 1995 to around 16% currently, it remains low compared to the levels in Europe (59%), Asia (51%), and North America (37%). One of the key reasons for the low level of intra-African trade is the lack of access to cross-border trade and market information.

Payment PortalPAPSS
There is an urgent need for intra-african banking payment portal and the recent
With the recent launch , jan 2023, of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement Systems (PAPSS) the continent will now have a platform to facilitate trade internally using local currency exchanges to accelerate trade within the African Continental Area. Hence there is a need for the Banks to innovate digital products using the protocols.