IN FACT, AFRICA is perfectly positioned. Strong infrastructure is actually detrimental in this new world.

When the current system works too well, there is resistance to change and too much legacy to overcome.

Fortunately. this wasn't a problem in China when I founded Alibaba in 1999. We had a large population, with low per capita income, and poor infrastructure in retail, logistics and banking.

But in just two decades, China has gone from 8.8 million Internet users to 850 million. Per capita income has risen from $800 to $9,000, and e-commerce sales have reached $1 trillion.

The Alibaba ecosystem alone is responsible for creating more than 40 million jobs in China. Last year, revenues from e-commerce in China's rural areas exceeded $ 97 billion, generating nearly seven million new job opportunities.

I believe Africa can do even better. Its lack of infrastructure is an advantage, just as it was in China.

But the continent also has other ingredients for success. It has 1.3 billion people, 40 percent of whom are under the age of 16. Six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. And  smartphone adoption rates are growing rapidly.

For Africa to prosper, I believe it must adopt what I'm calling the four E's.

The first E stand for entrepreneurs. We need to support Africa's existing business owners and inspire the next generation.

Lets show young Africans what entrepreneurs can do to transform society. I'm not talking about celebrating billionaires or big initial public offerings. I'm talking about start-ups that drive inclusive growth and solve social problems.

That's why my foundation recently started Africa's Netpreneur Prize. For the inaugural competition this year, we conducted a continentwide search with our regional partners for the most impressive entrepreneur in Africa.

More than 10,000 applied, and the top 10 could pitch me and group of judges during televised event for a chance to win a monetary prize, as well as mentorship and training opportunities.

The top three winners Temie Giwa-Tubosum Christelle Kwizera and Dr. Omar Sakr, are among the world's most promising innovators. Yes, we wanted to reward and support Africa's fantastic entrepreneurs. But more important, we wanted them to become inspiration for others.

The next two E's - e-government and education - are necessary to support entrepreneurs in that mission.

Africa needs technically savvy governments to create the conditions necessary for a digital economy to grow. And Africa's entrepreneurs need access to training and an education system built for the digital era.

I want to do my part as well. Which is why, in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Alibaba Business School created an e-commerce training programme - the eFounders Fellowship - to probe young African entrepreneurs with the skills necessary to develop thriving e-businesses.

Alibaba launched a similar training program for government officials and policymakers, to help them navigate a changing technology landscape.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on Digital Era and Africa, continues.

The World Students Society thanks author Jack Ma, the co-founder and the former executive chair of Alibaba Group.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!