About us

Background and rationale

The increased digitalization of economies is transforming our lives and societies at unprecedented speed and scale. New technologies can significantly contribute to sustainable development and generate additional opportunities: 

  • E-commerce can be a driver of economic growth, inclusive trade and job-creation. 
  • It can also be a catalyst for the transition of trade transactions involving micro, small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) from the informal to the formal sector and from domestic to international markets. 
  • Improved ICT and transport connectivity, better legal and regulatory frameworks and new e-commerce and payment solutions can enable more countries to take advantage of opportunities offered by e-commerce. 



The geography of the digital economy is highly concentrated in 2 countries with developing countries trailing behind



US and China have the 90% of the market capitalization value of the world’s 70 largest digital platforms.

Image data source:
UNCTAD Digital Economy Report 2019

The rapid speed of technological progress tends to outpace the ability of countries to adapt to the digital transformation and its subsequent social and economic changes. In a world where almost half of the population has limited or no access to the Internet, widening digital divides threaten to leave developing countries, and especially Least Developed Countries, even further behind.

“Under current policies and regulations, this trajectory is likely to continue, further contributing to rising inequality (…) Inclusivity is essential to building a digital economy that delivers for all.” 

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General 



eTrade for all : the beginnings

ground-breaking initiative for more inclusive e-commerce 

eTrade for all was born in July 2016 from a common vision: digital advances can be a powerful driver of economic growth, job creation and sustainable development including in the developing world. However, concerted global efforts are required to spread the digital economy’s gains to all and help close the digital divide. 

Against this background, 15 visionary partners joined forces during UNCTAD’s 14th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, to engage in a new way of supporting the uptake of e-commerce as a tool for development. Partners recognized the need for a holistic approach to make the digital revolution more inclusive. Governments, civil society, academia, international organizations acknowledged the need to work together to find new solutions and to maximize synergies. 

This is why our initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership, which connects the dotsbetween beneficiary countries, partners and donors.  We ensure that everyone, including the most vulnerable, can access the information and resources to benefit from the opportunities that the digital economy offers. 

« We welcome the formal unveiling of the eTrade for all initiative at UNCTAD XIV. It provides a new approach to trade development through electronic exchanges by allowing developing countries to more easily navigate the supply of technical assistance for building capacity in e-commerce readiness and for donors to get a clear picture » 

Nairobi Azimio,Member States Declaration – UNCTAD XIV 

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eTrade for all: the objectives

Making e-commerce work for development is our ambition. 


We help developing countries have better access to the capacity building and technical assistance programmes that the international community offer, with the overarching goal of fostering inclusive and sustainable development. Our platform offers a unique gateway for those in need of technical assistance to find those who will be able to provide that assistance. 

We also encourage cooperation and leverage opportunities among our partners. We believe that increased coordination enhances transparency, impact and aid efficiency, by avoiding duplication of efforts. 


eTrade for all: its partners 

eTrade for all partners are the backbone of the initiative. They include international organizations, regional development banks, civil society entities and national agencies, all committed to maximize synergies, leverage resources, skills and capacities to address the growing digital divides and help developing countries better address the multi-faceted dimensions of the digital economy. 

Discover all eTrade for all partners here!