E-commerce: Rwanda, first African hub of Alibaba

Boubacar Diallo

With the implementation of Alibaba’s e-commerce platform in Kigali, Rwanda becomes the first African hub of Chinese society … and thereby reaches a market of millions of potential consumers.

Already presented as the epicenter of the digital revolution in Africa, Rwanda is consolidating its lead. This week, the country welcomed the African hub of Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platform. It has been launched since Kigali by President Paul Kagame and the CEO of the Chinese company, Jack Ma. The two men know each other well, and have met several times. Their last interview was on September 23, 2018 in New York, on the sidelines of the Broadband Commission.

EWTP goal, or “Electronic World Trade Platform”: to promote public-private dialogue to foster a more efficient policy and business environment, and ultimately enable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in cross-border e-commerce. Thanks to the agreements signed in the Rwandan capital, the country’s SMEs will be able to sell their products, including coffee for example, to Chinese consumers via Alibaba’s online marketplaces.

An asset for Rwandan producers
With the installation of the hub, the second largest e-commerce giant out of China after Malaysia, the country has access to millions of potential customers. An opportunity well understood by Paul Kagame, for whom “the global trading platform […] will boost the capacity and competitiveness of entrepreneurs and business actors”. Rwandan producers will be able to “make direct sales to a much wider consumer base than before,” he said at the launch. And that, while bypassing the expensive intermediaries.

“This partnership between Rwanda and Alibaba will positively transform the existence of the population. We are determined to take advantage of the digital economy to support our exporters, local producers and artisans, “said Clare Akamanzi, President and CEO of the Rwanda Development Committee (RDB).

Jack Ma the African
While Rwanda intends to confirm its status as a digital leader in Africa thanks to the installation of eWTP, it also allows Jack Ma to establish itself even more on the continent. For the billionaire, for whom “Africa of today is much better than China, of ninety years ago” multiplies initiatives. Last, the launch of Netpreneurs Prize, a new contest dedicated to African founders of start-ups. The award provides for the distribution of nearly $ 10 million to one hundred entrepreneurs on the continent over the next ten years.

Since his appointment as Special Advisor to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) in September 2016, the Chinese CEO has his eyes on Africa. Interest that manifests itself through various philanthropic initiatives, but also through the development of its business on the continent. In June, he signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of his payment company Alipay with Equity Bank, a financial institution based in Kenya, and Red Dot, an online payment company in Singapore.

Le Point Afrique

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