Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Leveraging services and digital potential for inclusive economic growth


Leveraging services and digital potential for inclusive economic growth

Leveraging services and digital potential for inclusive economic growth
Photo credit: ICTSD

The development of well-functioning and efficient services sectors is crucial to achieving structural transformation and sustainable and inclusive growth in LDCs and LICs.

Furthermore, the global economy is undergoing a fundamental structural reformation driven by digital technology. Digital trade is, and will become, increasingly important for economies as digital services/e-commerce are increasingly directly traded as well as serving as crucial facilitating inputs into the production of other goods and services.

ICTSD’s work in support of the implementation of the WTO LDC Services Waiver, including the information obtained from case studies carried out in sixteen LDCs, suggested that one of the primary barriers to both domestic service sector development and services exports are regulatory aspects. There is a positive role for regulatory and policy development in economies in East Africa to significantly improve service sector and digital efficiency and competitiveness, leading to static and dynamic gains in the domestic economy, boost export performance and assist local firms to tap into global value chains (GVCs). 

SMEs engaged in the services sector are subject to a number of challenges and barriers, however, rich opportunities exist for them to generate economic growth and to support social and economic inclusion in the region. Recent work, carried out by ICTSD and others, suggests that the share of female employment in service sectors is significant, women account for almost half of all service sector employment globally, and that, more importantly, female participation in service sectors in Africa is expanding rapidly. Mainstreaming gender into regulatory frameworks is crucial for not only reducing poverty, improving employments prospects, and raising living standards for millions of women in region but is also equally necessary to improve productivity and efficiency across the region.

There is a strong link between a higher concentration of economic activity in the services sector and higher rates of economic growth. Apart from playing a key role in generating economic growth, service sector development can also help address domestic development priorities ranging from structural transformation to gender equality and inclusive growth.

ICTSD, in collaboration with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), organised a two-day event on Leveraging Services and Digital Potential for Inclusive Economic Growth from 25-26 January 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. In addition to interactive sectoral and plenary discussions, sessions covered the following topics:

  • Services, inclusiveness, SMEs and the SDGs

  • Gender dynamics in key service sectors: interactive sectoral discussions

  • Regulation as an enabler of service sector competitiveness

  • The Digital Economy: exploring the global and regional context

  • Digital regulation and the enabling environment in East Africa

  • The context of international negotiations

  • Identifying key issues and challenges

  • Establishing national and regional priorities


» Collection of Presentations from Day 1 (PDF, 3.91 MB)

» Collection of Presentations from Day 2 (PDF, 7.28 MB)


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