Trade Policy


The Commission to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with the support of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in July 2023, adopted the ECOWAS E-commerce Strategy and Implementation Plan 2023-2027 (ECS).

The objective of the ECS is support ECOWAS Member States in their 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.

Drawing from the African Union’s vision 2063 and the African Digital Transformation, the ECOWAS E-commerce Strategy directly supports the Community’s efforts to promote regional cooperation and integration. It builds on the ECOWAS Vision 2050, which calls for “A fully integrated Community of peoples, living in a peaceful and prosperous region, with strong institutions and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, striving for inclusive and sustainable development.”

The ECOWAS E-commerce Strategy leverages on existing ECOWAS instruments and policies on Information Communication Technology (ICT), trade facilitation and the vision for a common regional trade agenda. It reflects the input of Member States officials from ministries responsible for trade and ICT, direct consultations with over 450 stakeholders representing over 191 institutions from the public and private sectors. The ECOWAS E-commerce Strategy was endorsed by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers at their 90th Ordinary Session held in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau from the 6 -7 July 2023

Scope of the strategy

The ECS provides a roadmap of specific e-commerce measures for the period of 2023 – 2027 to support e-commerce development for the region.

The vision of the ECOWAS E-commerce Strategy is for:

A sustainable, inclusive, and secure e-commerce ecosystem supportive of ECOWAS’ efforts to use technology to accelerate structural change and foster regional integration through economic diversification and job creation.

The strategy recommends a set of four strategic goals:

  • Strategic goal 1, is on Institutional Strengthening: Strengthen ministries of trade to support domestic and cross-border e-commerce development. It aims at (i) strengthening regional intergovernmental coordination and cooperation on e-commerce development, and (ii) empowering ministries responsible for trade to lead the business development components of e-commerce.
  • Strategic goal 2, securing trust: Secure trust along the e-commerce supply chain from producers to consumers. It aims at securing trust along the e-commerce supply chain from producers to consumers focusing (i) on e-transactions and (ii) logistics and delivery services.
  • Strategic goal 3, e-commerce intelligence: Improve access to e-commerce statistics and market information in ECOWAS. It aims at (i) providing statistics and monitoring of the e-commerce market and (ii) designing an entry point to the e-commerce market for actual or potential users.
  • Strategic goal 4, inclusion: Foster inclusion for e-commerce development in ECOWAS. It aims at (i) leveraging the entrepreneurial propensity of women in the region (ii) harnessing the potential of ECOWAS’ youthful population, (iii) addressing access to e-commerce for people with disabilities, and (iv) providing incentives for the formalization of informal cross-border traders (ICBTs).

Governance framework

The ECS proposes a governance framework aimed at ensuring the active participation of relevant authorities, interest groups and technical experts in its implementation. It recommends the creation of the following four bodies:

  • Regional committee on e-commerce composed of representatives from Member States’ ministries responsible for trade
  • Cross-sectorial expert groups on the four thematic areas of the strategy
  • ECOWAS internal working group within the Commission
  • Regional e-commerce forum to promote public-private dialogue