BSI partners with UNCTAD to enable digitalization in developing countries through international standards

BSI joins United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) e-Trade for all initiative

BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, joins the UNCTAD led international eTrade for all initiative to help build trust in the digital economies of developing countries by promoting awareness, development and use of international standards.

Work has started with UNCTAD to integrate  standards into their eTrade readiness assessment exercise, which measures the barriers to e-commerce and digitalization. This is being piloted in Kenya and BSI will be working with the Kenya Bureau of Standards to ensure that the role of standards and standards bodies is properly reflected in the policy workshops that form a key part of the exercise.

This work follows the publication of BSI’s latest whitepaper on the role of standards in supporting the transition to a digital economy and facilitating digital trade. At a time when society is becoming increasingly digitalized, developing countries are investing in digital technology at half the rate of their developed counterparts (1.5% vs 3% of GDP[1]). The paper identifies that an important barrier to uptake is the lack of trust in digital technology: the key role that standards play in the UK to promote digitalization, and tackle concerns about cyber security, interoperability and privacy, contrasts with the lack of uptake in developing countries.  This suggests that international standards, which build trust in innovative applications of new technology and open-up global value chains, are the missing keystone in the bridge to a digital economy.

The paper recommends a standards-based toolkit to provide a comprehensive guide for developing countries, to help steer them through the digital transformation process. Such a toolkit would provide guidance on embedding international standards in national digital strategy, transformation of value chains and business processes.

Scott Steedman, Director-General, Standards at BSI said: “We are very pleased to join the UNCTAD eTrade for all initiative. The work that has been started in Kenya is an important first step towards building trust in the digital economies of developing countries. In our role as a leading National Standards Body we are committed to promoting awareness, development and use of international standards. Working with this network of 34 members we hope to accelerate the uptake of digital technology in developing countries, which is fundamental to achieving Sustainable Development Goals.”

“With BSI joining the eTrade for all initiative, the area of standards will be better reflected in our common efforts at enabling more developing countries to engage in and benefit from e-commerce”, said Torbjörn Fredriksson, who leads UNCTAD’s work on e-commerce and the digital economy.

Download the whitepaper here.


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