Ghana puts regulatory framework in place to safeguard digital trade for AfCFTA success; combat e-commerce, digital fraud
In a significant move to bolster the integrity of Ghana’s digital business landscape and enhance the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Ekuful, has issued a series of directives aimed at combatting e-commerce and digital fraud.
The directives as announced by the Minister in a press statement issued on Monday, November 6, 2023, underscore the need for Ghana to establish robust measures to mitigate e-commerce fraud. The ultimate goal is to promote trust and facilitate greater utilization of digital platforms for internal, regional, and continental trade, thus advancing the economic integration agenda of the African continent.
Under the purview of these directives, all Digital Service and Business Operators (DSBOs), with a particular focus on those engaged in e-commerce, e-logistics, e-trade, and e-services, are mandated to adhere to the electronic, e-commerce, and logistics laws in Ghana. Key provisions include Section 10 of Act 649 and Sections 47 to 49 of Act 772, which stipulate minimum compliance standards for e-commerce operators.
Notably, these directives apply to an array of prominent DSBOs, including well-known names like Uber, Glovo, Bolt, Jiji, Jumia, and many others. DSBOs are further required to comply with specific compliance guidelines, which include registering with the Postal & Courier Services Regulatory Commission (PCSRC) for courier and delivery services.
DSBOs are also instructed to verify the PCSRC e-certificates for delivery service providers (DSPs) on the AfCFTA Hub, with a deadline set for the end of November 2023. Importantly, from December 19th, 2023 onwards, DSBOs are directed to cease onboarding or collaborating with new DSPs lacking PCSRC registration.
Moreover, DSBOs in Ghana are mandated to register on the PCSRC portal, with logistics operators connected to ports also required to complete the registration process, facilitated by the Ghana Revenue Authority. Existing DSBOs and DSPs must ensure that all affiliated drivers, couriers, and delivery agents obtain PCSRC e-certificates by January 24, 2024.
The onus of verifying the registration status of drivers, couriers, and agents falls squarely on DSBOs and DSPs. They are obligated to confirm the validity of PCSRC e-certificates and AfCFTA Numbers before conducting business transactions. Additionally, DSBOs and DSPs must provide mechanisms for consumers to verify the registration of couriers and delivery agents and offer avenues for filing complaints and rating services using PCSRC e-certificate IDs.
These directives have arisen in response to persistent non-compliance within Ghana’s digital business sphere, particularly in the realm of courier and delivery services, despite prior notifications from the Ministry and relevant agencies. The success of Ghana’s strategic goal of becoming the gateway to AfCFTA could be significantly affected if digital fraud is not effectively controlled.
The government of Ghana’s launch of the AfCFTA Hub in August 2022 represents a concerted effort to boost digital trade while mitigating fraud, illicit trade, and abuse. The AfCFTA Hub complements other African Union 4D platforms like ProPer Seals and Tranzyt, with the overarching aim of fostering commerce within an environment of trust and security.
These policy directives the Minister noted in the press statement, are devised to ensure a seamless compliance process with the registration and verification procedures for DSBOs and DSPs, all within the existing regulatory framework.
The successful implementation of these directives is seen as pivotal to promoting the exponential growth of digital trade in Ghana, with the government counting on the unwavering support of all stakeholders to realize this vision.