At the request of the Government of Fiji, and with the support of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and funding from the TradeCom II Facility (EU), International Economics Consulting Ltd undertook an E-commerce Assessment of the country to analyse the e-commerce environment, identify growth opportunities, and develop a roadmap for reforms within the sector. Overall, compared to other Pacific Islands, Fiji benefits from over two decades of investment in ICT infrastructure, a location which is a hub for transport routes within the Pacific, and business environment reforms that have promoted competition amongst telecoms operators.
The main challenges hampering Fiji’s development in the e-commerce sector include:
- Lack of comprehensive and integrated policy or strategy to promote e-commerce adoption,
- Customs clearance issues,
- High costs for fix broadband,
- Lack of access to internet in rural areas,
- Regulatory framework failures in adapting to E-commerce needs,
- Inadequate ICT adoption, skill gaps, and lack of specialised workforce,
- Low access to finance (especially for SMEs) and
- Slow uptake of mobile online payment solutions.
To promote the development of e-commerce, the government of Fiji has taken several initiatives. The government has also launched Digital Fiji, a digital transformation programme that aims to enhance the overall ICT infrastructure and build capacity in digital transformation in the Government of Fiji. Additionally, the government has made efforts to improve access to financial services particularly for women, youth and those living in rural areas. Several financing schemes and incentives have been put in place to tackle the financing gaps. The private sector is also involved in the development of MSME accelerators, innovation labs, incubators and TVET training institutions to address Fiji’s skill gaps.
As a way forward, Fiji should update and adopt the missing laws necessary to create a stable and improved e-commerce business environment. It should also expand network coverage across rural areas, promote the use of digital financial services and upgrade existing TVET to include relevant ICT skills training for e-commerce. Finally, to address financial exclusion challenges, specific lending instruments for e-commerce should be built.
The Study can be downloaded directly from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s website.