Rwanda government and Alibaba Group have signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) to establish an eWTP (electronic world trade platform) to empower small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in cross-border electronic trade.
“The Electronic World Trade Platform opens up new frontiers in e-commerce and tourism for Rwanda, and will also boost the capacity and competitiveness of our entrepreneurs and businesspeople”, said President Paul Kagame. “Rwandan producers will be able to sell directly to a much larger set of customers than before, while bypassing costly intermediaries. This improves productivity and profitability. There really are no downsides to doing business on a global scale.”
The deal will see Rwandan SMEs sell their products, including coffee and handicrafts, to Chinese consumers through Alibaba’s online marketplaces such as Tmall Global platform while Alibaba’s travel services platform, Fliggy will promote Rwanda as a tourist destination through for booking flights, hotels and travel experiences, natural parks etc. Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial which runs AliPay will share expertise in inclusive financial tools, such as mobile payments, to support the Rwandan digital economy.
“I am delighted that Rwanda is the first eWTP partner in Africa, and I look forward to the development of an innovative digital economy here,” said Mr. Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group. “Entrepreneurs in Rwanda, and elsewhere in Africa, are ready to seize the opportunities offered by the digital economy. It is up to all of us to help them succeed.”
Through its Global E-commerce Talent Program (GET)- a five-day course, Alibaba will train fifty lecturers from Rwanda’s top universities in August organized by Alibaba Business School in partnership with the Ministry of Education’s Higher Education Council and the RDB.
“The partnership between Rwanda and Alibaba will change people’s lives for the better. We are committed to leveraging the digital economy to support our exporters, local producers and artisans. We have already seen tremendous attention from Chinese consumers on Alibaba’s platforms in high-quality Rwandan products such as our top-tier single estate coffee, and we are confident that local products and travel experiences will continue to receive interest and support from the more than half a billion consumers on Alibaba’s platforms,” said RDB Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi.
For policy makers, Alibaba will host a three-day workshop at its Hangzhou headquarters to showcase the nature, capabilities and promise of a new digital economy through first-hand experience with digital finance, logistics, e-commerce and big data industries. A delegation of Ministers and government officials responsible for the development of Rwanda’s digital economy will attend a workshop in Hangzhou in January 2019.
Alibaba will also continue to support Rwandan entrepreneurs through programs such as the eFounders Fellowship in partnership with UNCTAD to train 1,000 entrepreneurs from emerging markets over five years two hundred of which will come from Africa. Five Rwandan entrepreneurs have already graduated from the eFounders Fellowship program.