By Yinka Ibukun
Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., said African entrepreneurs will find countless opportunities in e-commerce, logistics and e-payments as the continent prepares for the start of a free-trade deal.
While governments will be responsible for administering the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which has a target starting date of July, business leaders will have to find practical ways on how to connect consumers in disparate markets, Ma, 55, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Ma was speaking after visiting Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe in the West African nation’s capital of Lome as part of a tour of the region.
“People like e-commerce, today people trust e-commerce,” said Ma. “It’s just like virgin land. People need it.”
The former English teacher stepped down from his role at China’s largest company on his birthday in September after amassing a $41.8 billion fortune. Ma wants African entrepreneurs to be celebrated as “heroes” and supported by their governments on a continent with a combined market size similar to China’s.
“Sometimes, it’s easy to reach an agreement, but it is difficult to implement,” said Ma. “There are too many countries, there are different rules, and languages and systems. But one thing is sure, entrepreneurs can connect Africa.”
Ma is also working on a TV show about African entrepreneurs. “This is one of the main reasons I’ve come this year,” said Ma. “We can help many young people. We can help startups.”