Rwanda Establishes Africa’s First Electronic World Trade Platform Through Alibaba

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

 

Rwanda has become the first African country to establish an electronic world trade platform, thanks to collaboration between the East African nation and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame and Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma formally launched the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) Africa in Rwanda, allowing small businesses in the country to take part in cross-border electronic trade, according to ITWebAfrica.

An electronic world trade platform is a a private sector-led initiative for public-private dialogue that leads to a more effective and efficient policy and business environment for cross-border electronic trade.

This will assist digital businesses in Rwanda with information about export opportunities, access to trade finance and logistics costs, among other benefits, providing greater access to Rwandan businesses within the e-commerce space.

Ma made the trip to Kigali to launch the initiative, which would allow for policy innovation, enabling cross-border trade of Rwandan products to Chinese consumers, facilitating tourism to Rwanda, and providing capacity building to support the African country’s digital economy, according to TheEastAfrican.

electronic world trade platform
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has signed an agreement with Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Image – AP Photo – Seth Wenig

The Rwandan president, once dubbed “The Digital President,” became the new chairman of the African Union (AU) at the beginning of the year, NewVision reported.

For years, the tech-savvy Rwandan leader has been calling for African governments to drive greater digital adoption and innovation, saying they need to collaborate on solutions for unlocking Africa’s full potential. He remains an example in this regard, and this latest development is further proof of his understanding and appreciation for the value that tech has for the African economy.

Electronic world trade platform for Rwanda through Alibaba

The electronic world trade platform sees Alibaba and affiliated companies support Rwandan business and tourism in a few ways.

Alibaba will work with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to help Rwandan businesses to sell their products, including coffee and handicrafts, to Chinese consumers through Alibaba’s online marketplaces, according to AfricaNews.

Alibaba’s travel services platform, Fliggy, and the Rwanda Development Board will work together to promote Rwanda as a tourist destination through a dedicated online store in which users can book flights, hotels and travel experiences in the country.

Chinese e-commerce tycoon Ma has displayed a real commitment to promoting entrepreneurship and the digital economy in Africa.

In August he announced a $10 million fund and program, dubbed the ‘Netpreneur’, that will support African entrepreneurs who are working within the digital economy to address Africa’s most important challenges, with $10 million set to be awarded to 100 African entrepreneurs over the next decade, according to Ventureburn.

The announcement was made in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Asia’s richest man was speaking at an event organized by the Alibaba Business School, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) and the Jack Ma Foundation.

The Netpreneur prize will focus on small business growth, grassroots innovation and women founders in particular.

That was not Ma’s first visit to Africa. In July 2017 he made a two-day visit to Kenya in his capacity as special adviser for the UN Conference on Trade and Development, according to ITNewsAfrica.

The Alibaba founder, whose wealth is valued at $28.3 billion, expressed interest in investing in Africa and Kenya in particular at the time, according to DailyNation.

He also committed to training 200 young African entrepreneurs and founders of digital startups. This latest announcement further illustrates Ma’s continued commitment to the digital economy and the support of entrepreneurs in Africa.

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