Insight Briefings reveal actions needed to build digital participation in the Middle East and North Africa
Consumers International research on consumer perceptions in the MENA region reveals that although consumers are increasingly optimistic about the role of technology in improving their lives, concerns around data protection, privacy and cybercrime could undermine growing digital participation.
The MENA region is home to one of the most youthful populations in the world, with 60% of people aged under 30. Internet access has almost doubled in the last seven years.
Despite the growth of e-commerce predicted to quadruple in size by 2022, consumers have low trust in online payments and face problems including unreliable service and a lack of information in local languages.
In several fields of consumer protection across e-transactions, data protection and cybercrime, analysis of UNCTAD Global Cyberlaw Tracker highlights that some MENA countries either lack measures, or should explore efforts to strengthen and fully enforce laws, in order to protect consumers in a rapidly evolving online environment.
Solutions for a healthier digital economy in MENA
Our new regional Insight Briefings on ‘Data Protection and Privacy’, ‘Cybercrime’ and ‘E-Commerce’ contain a range of suggested actions for governments, consumer protection authorities and digital companies, working alongside consumer organisations, where we propose:
- Cutting cybercrime through system-wide measures, such as protecting consumers’ payment details, financial assets and personal identity against fraud or misuse, to prevent cybercrime and deliver considerable benefits to consumers and the wider MENA economy.
- Enabling e-commerce take up with effective regulation and enforcement measures that address the gap between online and offline consumer protection, including dispute resolution, clear information and verifiable reviews.
- Improving data protection and privacy by developing or strengthening and fully enforcing current data protection laws to protect consumers’ rights against discriminatory practices, invasive marketing and loss of privacy.
Other Consumers International resources in this area
- Browse Consumers International’s Digital Index - a global database of legislation and initiatives for digital consumer empowerment, which aims to spread awareness of best practice.
- Explore Consumers International’s Trust by Design guidelines and learn how the security guidelines can be applied to different digital products and services Internet of Things manufacturers are developing.
- Consumers International’s recommendations to the G20 Consumer Digital Summit, including how to increase security and transparency, data protection by design, online redress and education and the OECD e-commerce guidelines which we helped to develop.
If you would like to be part of this continuing work on building digital participation in the MENA region, please get in touch.
More about the research
Our survey of 3,000 consumers in Oman, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt was accompanied by interviews with Consumers International regional members. As well as input from government, industry and civil society at our regional conference ‘Opportunities and Challenges for Consumers in the Digital Age’, held in Muscat in December 2018 with the support of the Public Authority for Consumer Protection.