Jack Ma, the founder and chief executive of Alibaba Group, Asia’s largest e-Commerce platform, has committed to invest in East Africa’s human capital to boost SME capacities.
The Chinese billionaire, who paid a courtesy call on President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro yesterday, was in the country for the inaugural YouthConnekt Africa Summit.
Ma arrived in the country on Thursday evening accompanied by about 30 Chinese business leaders.
Following his meeting with the Head of State, Ma said that, together with his delegation, they would invest in developing human capital across the region.
This, he said, will include training emerging entrepreneurs across the region with an aim to enable Small and Medium Enterprises build e-Commerce platforms and use internet to grow their enterprises.
He said they are yet to come up with estimates of the costs of their investments.
Addressing a news conference later, Ma – who is valued at over $35 billion – said his commitment to develop Africa’s e-Commerce sector will include taking about 200 young African investors to Alibaba headquarters to learn the latest skills in the industry.
The young investors and students will be trained on the latest skills in e-Commerce, artificial intelligence, among other areas, in collaboration with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development as well African universities.
“E-Commerce is the future, it will create jobs and presents a lot of opportunities across the continent,” he said.
Ma announced a $10 million enterprise fund to support emerging firms on the continent. He said that the initiative will start as soon as he puts together a team to oversee the fund.
Together with partners in philanthropy, he committed to annually award 50 outstanding park rangers for the next 10 years in support of wildlife conservation efforts on the continent.
The investments and support, Ma said, are not profit-oriented but geared at boosting job creation.
The Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, said Ma’s support will go a long way in supporting the development of local e-Commerce sector as well as job creation.