Often, we hear that e-commerce holds immense promise in driving inclusive development. In the E-commerce and Development Report 2002, Kofi A. Annan, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, urged the international community to prioritize the utilization of information and communication technology (ICT) to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015. Two decades have transpired since then. How has e-commerce contributed to inclusive development? What are the lessons learned and what are the policy implications?
This paper aims to answer these questions. Recognizing that “inclusive development” is a very broad term, the focus of this paper is on two of its dimensions: poverty reduction and empowering women. Both dimensions are cornerstones of the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. Critical methodologies for analysis include a literature review, input from an expert group meeting and the findings of an online survey.
This paper comprises five chapters. Chapter 1 provides background information of this paper. Chapter 2 reviews the relevant literature on e-commerce for (inclusive) development. Chapter 3 investigates the issues on leveraging e-commerce for poverty reduction. It points out that poverty and e-commerce are inherently incompatible. Chapter 4 delves into the topic of empowering women through e-commerce, and the difficulties in defining and measuring empowerment are emphasized. Chapter 5 further discusses policy implications.