Gaps identified as Niue’s lack of ICT policy will impede E-commerce opportunities

The access issues affecting Kiwibank customers since the weekend have been resolved. The general manager of Kiwi Bank Wayne McCaughan confirmed yesterday afternoon that online Kiwibank services are fully restored and customers can access their accounts.

The problem though has highlighted a gap in the ICT sector in Niue with no ICT national policy or legal framework for e-commerce.

A National E-Commerce Assessment conducted in November 2020 as part of the Pacific Island Forums Pacific E-Commerce Initiative found that Niue lacks the key legal framework necessary to enable and
regulate online transactions.

The report identified that currently there are no regulations covering critical areas such as e-transactions, cybercrime, consumer protection, and data protection law. Other possibly related laws that are still in force have been enacted a long time ago and thus need upgrading to remain relevant to E-commerce.

As part of a PACMAS programme ‘Covering the COVID Economy’ BCN news spoke with the Pacific Island Forum’s Director of Programmes & Initiatives Zarak Khan who said that it’s very important to have that overarching ICT policy.

However, while conducting these national assessments it was discovered that Niue is one of two countries in the region without an ICT national policy, Nauru is the other country without an ICT policy.

Minister of Finance and Planning Hon. Crossley Tatui says that “Niue’s ICT area is still unstructured and unsecured after many years. And that we must get it sorted to avoid security issues we’re experiencing.”

“There is so much to gain by adopting a clear and robust Government  ICT infrastructure,  policy and control system,” says Minister Tatui

The national assessment on E-commerce report recommended that Niue carry out a comprehensive regulatory gap analysis on E-commerce. And to draft and adopt the missing laws necessary to create a stable and conducive E-commerce environment.

The report states that Niue should develop a regulatory framework to comply with international best practices to enable online transactions, provide certainty and protection for consumers and businesses, and thus
develop an e-commerce conducive ecosystem.

Frank Sioneholo Head of the government’s Economic and Planning office says that his office has been assisting with the policy side of ICT but the gaps in ICT are also because there is no Information Systems Office which used to be a government agency working under Telecom.

However, since Telecom became a company in 2016, it is unclear which government agency is responsible for ICT matters.

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