Job Opening

Posting Title: Digital Trade Expert to support ECOWAS
Department/Office: Economic Commission for Africa
Duty Station: ADDIS ABABA
Posting Period: 03 August 2022 - 09 August 2022
Job Opening Number: 22-Economic Commission for Africa-187592-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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Result of Service

Deepened understanding of negotiations issues on digital trade. To this end, public and private stakeholders will be identified to express their expectations and concerns as well as their need for information and capacity-building as a basis to understand potential benefits (and risks) of the digital trade protocol and how to reap them.

Furthermore ECOWAS's interests in digital trade negotiations are clarified. Through economic analysis, the effects for ECOWAS Member States of an engagement in the negotiation on digital trade are quantified and/or qualified.

Work Location

Home Based

Expected duration

The expected duration of the assignment is five months.

Duties and Responsibilities

Background

The African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), through the Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD), is a specialized unit within the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Its mission is to act as the leading Africa-based Centre of Excellence and a continental hub for providing and coordinating technical support for the development of trade policies in Africa. ATPC works with stakeholders at all levels to enhance the implementation of sound national, regional and international trade strategies, policies and programs. The Centre also conducts research to generate and disseminate knowledge on trade and provides policy advice, training and capacity building based on the needs identified by its partners.

One of the key focus areas of ATPC's work is to assist the African Union (AU) and its Member States with the negotiation and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement both individually as well as in groups through their Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Trading under the AfCFTA Agreement commenced on 1 January 2021 and the AfCFTA Secretariat needs technical assistance to be able to effectively support
implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement.

Digital trade involves digitally enabled or digitally ordered cross-border transactions in goods and services which can be either digitally or physically delivered. Countries with better digital connectivity, such as a higher degree of Internet penetration, have a greater degree of trade openness and sell more products to more markets. More digitalization also means more trade.

Digitalization can also help countries to draw greater benefits from their regional trade agreements, including digital trade facilitation tools that reduce the costs of trade along supply chains, and is especially important for MSMEs and women entrepreneurs in developing countries. According to ECA, ESCAP, ECLAC, and OECD research, lower restrictiveness to digital trade is associated with higher access and use of communication networks and increased trade in digitally enabled services. Open digital markets lower trade costs for businesses, increase competitiveness, and lower prices for consumers. Multilateral trade rules and open commitments on services can lock in these benefits and provide certainty to firms seeking to access foreign markets.

The extensive use of ICT and the increase in digitization within Africa has led to strengthening its business potential and will certainly impact the evolution of digital trade. Digitalization, however, raises issues related to security, data integrity, privacy and data protection, and intellectual property rights. While it can reduce gender-related discrimination by removing human interaction, digitalization can also expand gender gaps where there is a gender-digital divide.

Such developments have led AfCFTA State Parties to consider digital trade and e-commerce in the second phase of the AfCFTA negotiations. At the same time, a Continental Harmonization Plan for Africa is currently being developed by the African Union as part of the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa adopted at the 2020 African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government that aims to harmonize ICT policy and regulatory frameworks in the digital sector and envisions paving the way forward to creating a digital common market in Africa by 2030.

ECA through its African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) has been working on these and similar questions with a view to providing support to the AfCFTA negotiations, including the Protocol on Digital Trade and E-commerce. This includes a training and research initiative on Regulatory Integration of Digital Trade in Africa, which aims to conduct a readiness assessment for African countries to take advantage of digital trade and E-commerce with a strong focus on regulations and to assist member States on digital trade issues in general and in the AfCFTA context. The initiative provides a solid foundation upon which to build, and it is now important to translate and transfer the evidence generated to inform the protocol through training and workshops on digital trade and eCommerce.

In this context, ECA intends to hire a consultant, an expert in digital trade, to be posted at the ECOWAS Commission to support the development and implementation of a work program on Digital Trade under the AfCFTA for the ECOWAS Member States to make informed choices about how to reap the benefits presented by Digital Trade, while at the same time managing the challenges that may come with it.

Qualifications/special skills

Academic Qualifications: Advanced university degree (i.e. Master’s degree) in Trade, Law, Economics, Development Studies or related field with relevance for the assignment
Experience: Ten (10) years of proven experience in trade policy formulation, regional integration and development, or related areas is required. Proven experience in Digital Trade is desirable.
Language: English and French are the working language of the United Nations Secretariat. For this consultancy, fluency in English language is required.

No Fee

THE UNITED NATIONS DOES NOT CHARGE A FEE AT ANY STAGE OF THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS (APPLICATION, INTERVIEW MEETING, PROCESSING, OR TRAINING). THE UNITED NATIONS DOES NOT CONCERN ITSELF WITH INFORMATION ON APPLICANTS’ BANK ACCOUNTS.

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