The emergence of e-commerce in modern trade has created a new challenge among the Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) throughout the world CFTC commissioner Mathews Chakankheni has said.
Speaking during the opening of the 6th annual African Consumer Protection dialogue conference in Lilongwe on Monday Chikankheni said e-trade is evolving at an astronomical rate hence the need for consumer protection agencies to be vigilant.
Said Chikankheni: “While we appreciate the positive role of online commerce in fostering growth of continental trade through enhancing choice and better flow of information, this mode of business is evolving at an astronomical rate forcing us to play catch up.
“It is evident that there is little that we can do to effectively deal with detriments of online trade without international collaboration especially considering that the infrastructure that drives online trade is international.”
Chikankheni said it is essential that new and better ways of working together are devised to identify and tackle this emerging challenge.
Apart from e-commerce, Chikankheni said counterfeits have also proved to be a big challenge in most African countries.
“With porous borders Africa has become a haven for counterfeits predominantly coming from the far -east. In fact the World Health Organisation estimated that over 30 per cent of the drugs sold in Africa are fake and this has resulted in deaths of many people on the continent,” said Chikankheni.
Minister of Industry and Trade Joseph Mwananvekha commended the US Federal Trade Commission and consumer protection agencies in Africa for instituting the African Dialogue on Consumer Protection as an avenue for an informal exchange of experiences and insights.
He said there is a great need to finding ways of cooperating with the private sector, civil society and the Judiciary in matters of consumer protection.
“There is need for concerted efforts by the Government, public institutions, the private sector and civil society to ensure that consumers are adequately protected from unfair trading practices,” said Mwanamvekha.
According to Mwanamvekha such cooperation can be developed and strengthened if there is effective exchange among the stakeholders.
The 6th annual conference of the African Consumer Protection Dialogue is being hosted by a tripartite of institutions of Comesa Competition Commission, the competition and Fair Trading Commission of Malawi and the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC).