China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, on Wednesday, launched its first undergraduate cross-border e-commerce program for African students.
The 22 students from Rwanda arrived in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, where Alibaba is headquartered, Tuesday, the 20th anniversary of the tech giant. “You came at the right time and to the right place,” said Zeng Ming, president of Alibaba Business School with the Hangzhou Normal University, at the opening ceremony. The school is not a traditional business school, but one that focuses on the internet economy said Zeng.
“Foreign students can take courses related to the internet, global trade and cross-border e-commerce and also gain firsthand experience of the development of China’s digital economy,” he said. “This opportunity will change our lives,” said 18-year-old Mike Manzi. He said that after graduation, he hopes to set up an e-commerce platform back in his country that helps simplify tax declarations and customs clearance for cross-border trade.
The program is part of a cooperation agreement between the Rwandan government and Alibaba under the latter’s Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) initiative. Rwanda and Alibaba launched the eWTP in October 2018, making Rwanda the first African country to launch the platform. Since the launch of the eWTP, Rwanda’s coffee and tourism products have been sold on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms, including coffee from the Rwandan company “Land of a Thousand Hills.”
The eWTP demonstrates the friendly development concept of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and help connect the world through the internet, said Virgile Rwanyagatare, the Charge d’Affaires at the Rwandan Embassy in China, at the ceremony. China sells goods to the world through e-commerce, and African countries will soon be able to connect to these online platforms, said Rwanyagatare. “The eWTP is an opportunity for Rwandans, and I believe it will help Rwanda’s development in terms of economy and e-commerce,” said Manzi.
Rwanda wants to become a middle-income nation by embracing digitalization and smart business transactions through the eWTP, said Sunny Ntayombya, head of communications and marketing at Rwanda Development Board, in a written interview with Xinhua. The prospects of the eWTP are high in Rwanda, said Ntayombya, and the country hopes the partnership results in more trade with China and the world. “With four-year systematic learning, we hope Rwandan students can integrate into China’s digital economy and become a backbone for Rwanda after graduation,” said Huang Mingwei, vice president of Alibaba.
Over the past year, Alibaba has provided e-commerce training programs for officials, business owners, entrepreneurs, and college teachers from Rwanda. The company has jointly developed e-commerce courses with Rwanda’s African Leadership University. Rwanyagatare said he expects the students to become strong leaders and develop successful businesses in the future and to teach people back home what they have learned in China.