E-commerce has evolved since its inception in the late 1990s, putting consumers on centre stage. Increased digital commerce has meant that consumers have convenience and near instant access to online goods and services, however dangers lurk on fulfilment. The line between businesses and consumers continues to blur due to the increased financial opportunities opened to consumers to sell, rent, and perform tasks for other consumers through Internet platforms. This rampant online activity also generates a wealth of data used to sketch and ruminate consumer profiles which have become core to ecommerce business models but also brings risks, including privacy and security risks. Inversely, of 54 African countries, only 25 have laws on online consumer rights and electronic transactions (4 have draft laws) while just over half of the countries have data protection laws; a majority lacking the needed enforcement mechanisms.
• What are the emerging issues in consumer protection in the digital economy and what categories of persons/consumers are most vulnerable?
• How does consumer protection in this era intersect with other emerging issues such as data protection, cybersecurity and technologies such as artificial intelligence?
• To what extent have existing consumer protection regulations addressed the issue of inclusivity and standards for digital products and platforms?
• How can policy and regulatory frameworks be leveraged to create a well-functioning digital economy?