A few weeks separate us from the second anniversary of the emergence of the Coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan before the virus invaded the world and turned into a deadly epidemic that killed millions.
The epidemic not only exhausted countries, health and governmental institutions, but also exhausted the emerging economies before the big ones and greatly affected many pioneering projects that were launched on sound foundations, and almost reached the last stage of success.
In turn, the pandemic has created unprecedented opportunities for investment in the digital and technology sector.
As scientists quickly arrived at the vaccines for the epidemic, and the closure policies have receded in a good number of countries in the world, the talk is focused on the means, methods, and sectors of investment after Corona.
How will a year and a half or more of closures affect the shape of trade in the coming years, or even decades, in the world as a whole and our Arab world in particular?
This is indeed what happened and the great development the world witnessed in the investment sector in e-commerce, as e-commerce rates doubled, from one percent of the global trade volume in 2019 to 5-15 percent during the Corona epidemic.
Add that, starting from 2021, the global economy will return to growth by 5 percent, the fastest rate in fifty years, according to reports of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
What happened is that the Corona epidemic changed the face of the world and came with a unique lifestyle, making people more open and able to communicate, manage their businesses, and buy remotely.
If the previous period had nothing positive, it is enough that it was imposed on the person who resisted the tremendous development in the technology of communication and trade exchange, acceptance and conviction in it, and even marketing for it.
For this, the Arab world has to keep pace with the development and global trend towards digitalization and electronic commerce.
Despite the boom witnessed by this sector all over the world, especially in the last two years, it still constitutes only 2% of the volume of trade in the Arab world.
Three Arab countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) still control 80 percent of all e-commerce in the Arab world, according to a report conducted by the UAE-based “Go-Gulf” company.
Therefore, Arab governments, companies, and even ambitious Arab youth should go more towards investing in this sector, which is reinforced by the interest in technological disciplines and the shift towards digitizing our commercial and non-profit projects.
This, of course, includes the services sector, legal, medical, educational and other advice; Despite indications that the e-commerce market has quadrupled in the Arab world in the last five years, this market is still in its infancy and investment in it may bring strong numbers and returns in the short and long term.
Arab governments also have a great responsibility to promote investment in this sector, the most important of which is creating awareness and building consumer confidence, by enacting strict laws and legislation that combat fraud and forgery in products coming through the electronic market.
A quick look at the fraud stories coming from the Arab world in this sector, you will find that the numbers are still large in a number of countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
According to a study conducted by the Federation of Kuwait Banks and the digital platform Visa, 23 percent of Kuwaitis did not receive the products they paid for electronically, and another 26 percent received counterfeit goods that did not meet the mentioned specifications at the moment of payment.
This prompts consumers to pay more attention to writing feedback on transactions made electronically across different platforms.
There is another challenge, which is providing the infrastructure that supports the development of the digital commercial sector, and facilitating access to the resources and financing necessary to invest and advance in this field.
A country like Algeria, with a population of about 44 million this year, is still ranked very late in the world (174th place in the world) in the field of Internet speed, according to the global index (Speed Test) specialized in analyzing and testing Internet speeds.
As well as infrastructure problems, especially the electricity crisis that hits Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan and Iraq.
This happens despite the fact that the Arab world has huge technological capabilities, which can dazzle the world if the right conditions are provided for them.
I remember that in our meeting with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, the wife of the Jordanian monarch, I expressed to her my full conviction that a country like Jordan has a competitive advantage in terms of the number of qualified technological cadres, and that the Jordanian economy can be largely based on the software and technology sector. Or as a friend puts it: “Technology is Jordan’s oil.”
This may be achieved through universities focusing more on specializations that keep pace with the transformation taking place in the field of digitization and improving the capabilities of the human element that is already qualified to advance this sector towards global competitiveness.
What I would like to say is that this is the most appropriate time to shift towards digitization and e-commerce, whatever the product, sector or services provided by the company or organization (profitable and non-profit), because we have already entered a new and unprecedented stage in the field of investment in this aspect.
We can say that what is before Corona is one thing and what is after it is something else, we are in front of a completely new and different world, and a businessman who resists the transformation that is taking place and does not understand this stage may lose his audience and customers towards competitors.
I believe that the investment opportunities in the digitization and e-commerce sector are still very large, and we at Nobles Real Estate Company, and in line with our strategy aimed at shifting towards digitization and investing in the e-commerce sector, have invested, within the last month alone, ten million dollars in affiliated shares For electronic sectors and projects, we also have a set of ideas for development and advancement in this sector.
The views and opinions expressed in this opinion article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Eastern Herald.