Jack Ma: Today’s Africa is the China of 20 years ago

Posted by on January 11, 2020 10:32 pm
Categories: Politics

I set foot in Africa for the first time in 2017. As Special Advisor to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, I have visited Kenya and Rwanda. Having done a lot of research before leaving, I thought I knew what to expect – and hoped to get out of my comfort zone…To my surprise, it was not much different from what I had experienced at home in China.

…The digital revolution has the potential to bring tremendous prosperity to the continent, provided it has the entrepreneurs and businesses capable of carrying it out. Skeptics may well point to the inadequacy of its infrastructure and believe that it is not at all ready to enter the digital age, but they are mistaken: on the contrary, it is very well placed.

In this new world, heavy infrastructure is of little use… Fortunately, this was not a problem in China in 1999, when I created Alibaba. We had a large population, low per capita income, and poorly developed infrastructure in the retail, logistics and banking sectors.

But two decades later, the number of Internet users has risen from 8.8 million to 850 million; per capita income has risen from as low as $800 to as high as $9,000; and e-commerce sales total $1 trillion.

The Alibaba Ecosystem alone has created more than 40 million jobs throughout the country. Last year, e-commerce revenues exceeded $97 billion in rural China, generating nearly 7 million new jobs.

And Africa can do even better. As China, the lack of infrastructure is an asset there. Another ingredient for its future success is its 1.3 billion inhabitants, 40% of whom are under 16 years old. Six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are African. And the number of smartphones per capita is growing rapidly.

(Excerpt) Read more at theafricareport.com

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