Data Protection: A Key Piece in Engaging the Sub-Saharan e-Commerce Market

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Revealing ones financial state is one of the most personal things one can do. We all walk around with our financial masks on hoping that the world does not see us financially exposed. Electronic and mobile commerce have proven to be a huge growth area in Sub-Saharan Africa. The rise of interactive electronic devices as such mobile phones, tablets and laptops has brought with it an abundance of financial modeling opportunities.

In Sub-Saharan Africa; mistrust is one of the principal barriers in mobile commerce adaption. A 2012 study done by Ericsson regarding mobile commerce in the region revealed that of those people who do not bank or wish not to bank via the mobile phone, about 45% of the respondents stated that a lack of security was their main barrier. This was followed by the fear of the mobile getting easily lost and lack of knowledge on how services work. From this view alone we can already conclude that protection from harm and knowledge sharing will be key drivers in converting e-commerce non-users to users.

 As internet enabled mobile phones rapidly grow faster than the human population, these devices will take over and become more integrated into everyday ways of working. It will take a consolidated effort from all levels of society to make this trading platform as safe and reliable as possible.

In Tanzania, for example, households/individuals represent the highest portion of internet users compared to organizations/institutions and internet cafes. This is according to a recently published report by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority. This means that the everyday man and woman have become potential cash cows for e-commerce growth. This further means that their perceptions of the e-commerce business model are highly important. In an effort to curb online crime, Tanzania has published a Cybercrime Bill that will make provision for criminalizing offences related to computer systems and Information Communication Technologies. This bill has been met with a degree of opposition by Tanzanians due to certain clauses possibly infringing on the freedom of expression and privacy. But the point being made here is that steps have been taken to decrease concerns surrounding being actively involved online. With a greater degree of healthy dialogue and negotiations between the people and the state, a satisfactory middle ground can potentially be reached.

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