The digital revolution of trade business

By Lulu Kiritu

It is no secret that two forces, trade and technology have revolutionized our world. The former, however, has existed way before the latter advanced. Technology began 4-5 million years ago and it has continued to evolve and advance over the years due to the growing needs amongst human beings. It is true what they say; Necessity is surely the mother of invention. The need to better human livelihood resulted to some of the greatest technological advancements witnessed by man. As much as technology has advanced over the decades, one thing that remains 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. These industries include but are not limited to, trade, tourism and entertainment industries amongst others. Before technology, people did things manually, for example, before the invention of the combustion engine that led to the invention of cars, people used animal labor; before the telephone, people used smoke signals, messengers and later on letters and telegrams and before Information technology and the internet, trade was mainly done through barter trade.

Trade was and still is a major source of livelihood among people. In the past, people conducted trade through a system popularly known as barter trade. Barter trade, mostly happened among people of different communities co-existing within the same geographical location. Language barriers between different communities and also the manual way of doing things sometimes hampered this type of trade. Technology, however, has changed that since the process and mode of transport has been eased 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. A couple of companies and agencies have taken advantage of this advancement. The Kenya Trade Network Agency(KenTrade), a trade facilitation state agency, has not been left behind. For a long time, there was a gap in Kenya’s trade industry.

Traders and businessmen 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. KenTrade realized this gap and came up with a solution, an online cargo clearance platform known as the Electronic  Single Window System, where people can acquire documentation via an online portal at the comfort of their office or home. The introduction of the Electronic Single Window System in Kenya officially known as the Kenya TradeNet System has reduced the amount of time spent on acquiring these documents.

In as much as technology has brought about ease, it has also brought about risk in every industry. The advancement of technology has brought about a lot of tricksters and con people and as such has made people quite skeptical about using Information Technology to trade. With the increase in scammers, KenTrade introduced a product, i-Screen, which enables people to screen their counterparts before importing or exporting their goods to them.

This advancement has created security and confidence while conducting trade. People have different opinions on technology. Some think that technology is a helper while others think that technology is a thief of jobs. In my opinion, technology has its pros and cons, but I believe that the pros outweigh the cons. The trade industry for instance has experienced a major sprout since the advancement of technology has eased and fastened a lot of processes. As a result, there have been economic improvements. The United States of America between 2002 and 2017 realized a huge economic improvement as a result of improved technology. Whether we like it or not, technological advancement has and will continue to revolutionize our world.

The author is a Public Relations Consultant

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