I received the following privately:
> Perhaps I missed the beginning of the discussion on e-commerce but surely
> the greatest significance for Africa is that it changes the terms of
> trade in some small way. The coffee producer (physical product) or
> musician/record label (product in bits which is my interest) can sell
> direct to the consumer in developed countries.
Excellent point. I was wondering if the development objective was
local producers selling to local consumers, but you raise an
interesting example of local (to African countries) producer selling
to consumers who are outside of Africa.
For your example, the practical issues are a bit different. The
farmer doesn't need a credit card, for example, to sell coffee in
Europe. Still, there are complications.
To take your coffee example, how would the farmer and the
consumer negotiate their transaction? Some sort of bidding
system on the Web? (I've heard ZimTrade in Zimbabwe was
thinking of something like that for maize.) Will farmers have
access to this system? How? In their homes? Large commercial
farmers only? What about smaller producers? Through
Who will handle the shipment? How will the coffee farmer be sure
that the consumer will pay? Advance payment before delivery?
How will the consumer be sure that the coffee will be delivered
once payment is made? How will the funds be transferred?
> With a small amount of political will this income (without
> deductions from wholesalers and retailers) will increase the
> available cash to the producer. That increased cash - especially
> if available in "hard" currencies - will enable the producers to
> change their circumstances and develop new links. The key is a
> framework in which consumers in the developed countries feel
> confident and more flexible banking regulations in the African
Perhaps there's more. These wholesalers and retailers are in
business, too, yes? With employees? What will they think about
these changes? Will their political will carry more or less weight
than that of producers?
Jeff @ Nairobi
Tel +254 (2) 581473
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PO Box 30261