Fund aims to bring e-commerce to developing world

A partnership led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and World Trade Centre (WTC) Geneva on Friday announced an agreement to increase efforts at making electronic commerce a reality in developing countries.

Under the terms of a Trust Fund agreement signed on Friday, the ITU and WTC Geneva, together with World Internet Secure Key SA (WISeKey), will join forces to expand the existing Electronic Commerce in Developing Countries (EC-DC) project. The plan calls for utilising the World Trade Centre network and its more than 300 centres in over 100 countries, the ITU and WTC Geneva said in a joint statement.

The partners expect to inject around $US2.7 million to the fund every year for the next three years to cover the costs of experts made available to set up centers and implement e-commerce solutions in developing and least developed countries, the statement said.

By building the basic e-commerce capabilities, and boosting the confidence of small and medium-size enterpises (SMEs) in developing countries, the project aims to overcome the technical, financial and operational constraints which combined hinder the development of e-commerce in many poor countries, according to the statement.

The cost of building a Web with even basic e-commerce capabilities is estimated to be around $100,000, making it a "severe deterrent" for most SMEs in developing countries, the statement said.

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