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US expert pushes for Internet trade

Published date:
Friday, 13 September 2002

The Internet can tremendously boost Africa's trade with the United States, a trade specialist has said.

Dr Susan Hester, an international trade economist, said a good number of business people in the US were looking for information on African products on the web but this was hampered by lack of websites on African products.

She said online marketing was important if Africa hoped to meaningfully exploit the US market.

The economist was addressing business people at a seminar on Niche Marketing of African Textiles and Handicrafts, organised under the auspices of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) at a Mombasa hotel.

Dr Hester said African Americans wanted to trace their roots back to Africa, and were interested in the history of items on sale.

"It is important that each of the items - be it handicraft, African fabrics, baskets and others - targeting the American market have relevance to African history, which African-Americans want to identify with," she said.

The Mombasa branch vice-chairman of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), Mr Sam Okello cited marketing as one of the weakest links in Kenya's trade with the outside world.

He urged traders to aggressively use Information Technology to boost their businesses.

"It is imperative to improve on Internet connectivity and create web sites within our trades which will, in turn, provide our producers with excellent exposure overseas, at relatively reasonable cost and within the quickest possible time," he said.

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