Initial E-Commerce Efforts in Nine Least Developed Countries: A Review of National Infrastructure, Business Approaches, and Product Selection

Initial E-Commerce Efforts in Nine Least Developed Countries: A Review of National Infrastructure, Business Approaches, and Product Selection

William Wresch (University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-939-7.ch029
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Abstract

While e-commerce would seem to be a unique opportunity for poor countries with limited local markets to sell goods to richer nations, limited research is available on the current status of e-commerce efforts in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). This study reviewed the efforts of the nine countries identified by the UNDP as having the least technological capacity. Statistics provided by the UNDP demonstrate serious national infrastructure problems in each of the countries. Yet a survey of business web sites finds that all but one (Sudan) has some minimal e-commerce efforts underway. A survey sent to companies in three of these countries showed that many companies were being creative in where they were hosting their web sites and were able to keep their web costs low. Yet the vast majority also reported slow sales and a variety of local barriers to success. A review of the products they are offering on their sites found that the product mix might be particularly problematic. The author hopes the results of this study will suggest improved strategies for companies in LDCs seeking to use e-commerce to expand their markets.

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