Why we cannot afford to ignore technology in trade

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019 00:00 |
Leveraging trade. Photo/Courtesy

Karitu Lulu 

Leveraging trade and technology, the world has been revolutionised beyond our wildest dreams.

The former, however, has existed way before the latter advanced with technology having began four to five million years ago and it has continued to advance due to changing human needs.

They say necessity is the mother of invention. The need to better the human life resulted in some of the greatest technological advancements.

But even as technology advances, one thing that is constant is the motive behind every evolution, which is, to make work easier and faster.

Technology has greatly impacted and brought about ease to a lot of our industries.

Trade was, and still is, a major source of livelihood for many people. In the past, people exchanged commodities due to lack of money, through a system known as barter trade, which mostly happened among people of different communities in the same geographical location.

Language barriers between communities and the manual way of doing things sometimes hampered this type of trade. 

Technology, however, has changed with the process and mode of transport made easier through better transportation of goods and better communication channels as well as trade facilitation avenues.

Technology has advanced trade and driven the global economy through a period of extraordinary growth and dynamism over the past quarter of a century.

While a couple of companies and agencies have taken advantage of this advancement, KenTrade, a State trade facilitation agency, has not been left behind.

For a long time, there was a gap in Kenya’s trade industry. Traders struggled to acquire necessary trade documents to help facilitate their export and import businesses.

People moved from office to office to acquire the necessary documents. This process was not only tiring but also time-consuming as well as an avenue for corruption. 

This had a negative impact on the economy as people spent more time trying to facilitate their own trade and, in the process, made less money.

The agency realised this gap and came up with a solution, the Single Window System, where people can acquire documentation via an online portal at the comfort of their office or home.

The introduction of the Single Window system in Kenya has reduced the time spent on acquiring documents.

But technology also comes with risks; it has been infiltrated by tricksters, which has made some people skeptical about using information technology in trade. 

With the increase in scammers, KenTrade introduced a product, iScreen, which enables users to screen their counterparts before importing or exporting their goods to them. This has created security and confidence while conducting trade.

There are varied opinions on technology. Some people think that is a helper while others are of the view that it takes away jobs. Technology has its pros and cons, but I believe that the pros outweigh the cons. 

The trade industry, for instance, has experienced a major growth because the advancement of technology has eased and speeded  up processes.  And the upshot economic improvement. 

For instance, between 2002 and 2017, the United States realised huge economic improvement as a result of improved technology. Like or hate it, technological advancement has and will continue to revolutionise our world. — The writer is a PR practitioner

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