E-commerce Services & Digital Economy - WBG

E-commerce Services & Digital Economy - WBG

Information dated: 2017

Tel: 202 473-1000

Web: http://www.worldbank.org

E-trade, in its dual role of promoting export diversification and reducing trade costs, can be a valuable tool for reducing poverty and fostering inclusive growth through trade and competitiveness improvements.


The World Bank Group offers developing countries practical support oriented to increasing their engagement on e-trade and maximizing the positive impacts of e-trade. Focused in the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, and drawing on the expertise of a wide range of teams the World Bank Group focuses its support on four key pillars of the e-trade enabling environment.


• First, the WBG provides diagnostics of the performance of a particular economy on e-trade, assessing the main limitations hampering the e-trade environment.


• Second, the WBG supports clients in reforming the regulatory environment for e-trade, covering issues like e-signatures and electronic documentation; privacy and consumer protection; cross-border data flows; and electronic payments. This involves conducting an assessment of the regulatory environment on e-trade based on international best practices, focusing both on the enabling regulation on e-trade as well as regulatory barriers. The WBG also provides support for the implementation of reforms to address the barriers identified and improve the enabling environment for e-trade.


• Third, the WBG builds on its long experience in trade facilitation and logistics to support the adoption of customs procedures and logistics conditions for e-trade. This includes targeting aspects of the border management regime that most affect e-trade, especially small firms and entrepreneurs, including transparency and de minimis regimes. It also includes working on “last-mile” logistics and internal connectivity to trade, to ensure that high domestic logistics costs do not undercut the impact of reforms to lower trade costs at the border.


• Fourth, the WBG provides support to foster digital entrepreneurship, based on experience and lessons learned working around the world in a wide variety of industries, and is tailored to the unique circumstances of our clients.


Support for improving the e-trade enabling environment


E-trade environment diagnostics and strategy

Policy and regulatory reform

Trade facilitation and logistics

Digital entrepreneurship


• Understand e-trade performance

• Identify key constraints in e-trade environment

-Insert e-trade in broader trade strategy

• Strengthen policy and regulatory framework to enable e-trade

• Support evidence-based policymaking by governments

• Reduce trade costs for goods e-commerce

• Streamline border procedures

• Upgrade logistics environment for e-commerce

• Expand private sector capacity for e-trade

• Improve small and micro-enterprise participation in e-trade

Key issues

• E-trade flows of goods and services; data flows

• Platforms and partners involved in e-trade

• Key constraints in the e-trade environment

• Enabling regulation: e.g. e-signatures, consumer protection, privacy & data protection

• Regulatory barriers: e.g. restrictions on data flows; localization requirements

• Customs and other border agency regulations for small shipments (e.g. de minimis threshold)

• Domestic logistics along e-commerce supply chain, including last-mile delivery

• Access to early-stage funding

• Digital literacy and


WBG approach

• Indicator-based review of e-trade environment drivers

• Data analysis of e-trade flows

• Development of e-trade strategy and private sector engagement


• Review of laws and regulations on e-trade

• Gap assessment with global best practice

• Private sector consultations

• Technical support to implement reforms

• Field assessments of border and logistics constraints, gap assessment with WTO-TFA provisions

• Support to implement streamlined procedures and improve logistics environment

• Ecosystem support: incubation, acceleration, mentorship and early funding

• Ecosystem assessments


Promoting Digital Literacy and Entrepreneurship

The Digital Entrepreneurship Program of the WBG seeks to expand capacity and entrepreneurship for the private sector, in particular SMEs, to reap the benefits of e-commerce. Specifically, the Program’s focus is on providing ecosystem and firm-level support to improve the capacity of startups to identify market opportunities, develop and test products and services, and access mentors and appropriate financing, supporting the digital entrepreneur on the path “from mind to market.” The initiatives carried out by T&C teams in this regard have a focus on “digital ecosystem support”: through incubation, acceleration, mentorship and access to early-stage funding, as well as dedicated programs for disadvantaged populations; product examples include:

  • mHubs: membership organizations and networking platforms that promote digital entrepreneurship through events such as hackathons, competitions, seminars, workshops, social evenings with thematic presentations, etc. Country experience: Nepal, Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Caribbean, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Zambia, and the Caribbean.

  • mLabs: physical spaces that act as central points in the ecosystem. In addition to events such as those organized by mHubs, mLabs also provide incubation and acceleration services to digital entrepreneurs. This includes technical and business training, mentorship, one-on-one coaching, and assistance to accessing markets and connections to sources of early-stage financing. mLabs also provide business services such as office space, testing equipment, and administrative support to residents. Country experience: Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Vietnam, Armenia, and Kuwait (Creative Industries Hub).

  • Regional accelerators: intensive programs for the most competitive startups, consisting of one-on-one mentorship and coaching, and access to investors, through a combination of residential and virtual training and business model refinement. Country experience: South Africa (pan-African acceleration program), Senegal (West Africa pre-acceleration program), Kenya (East Africa pre-acceleration program).