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Home Entrepreneurship Ethiopia partners Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to build its digital economy

Ethiopia partners Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to build its digital economy

by Shiko Gathoni
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Ethiopia has announced a partnership with the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to build its digital economy, the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology announced on Wednesday.

The partnership was announced in Hangzhou, China where the Ethiopian Minister of Innovation and Technology Getahun Mekuria met with Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group at the Alibaba Group headquarters.

“Great discussion with Jack Ma on building Ethiopian Digital Economy,” Mekuria said in a social media while at the headquarters of the Alibaba Group. “Jack Ma expressed he has been inspired by the reforms that have been undertaken, confirming that Ethiopia is now a key strategic partner which he will visit this year.”

The Ethiopian government and Alibaba see digital transformation as a high priority investment needed “to usher speedy deliverables in the sector”.

Mekuria’s delegation followed Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s visit to the headquarters of Alibaba in Hangzhou in April this year and their first meeting in January at the World Economic Forum (WEF) that was held in Davos, Switzerland.

Ahmed is looking to explore ways to cooperate with Chinese firms and attract foreign capital and expertise to Ethiopia. There is currently a lot of Chinese investment in Ethiopia and charm offensive with Hangzhou is needed to increase the investments or get better deals for the Horn of Africa nation. Alibaba is expected to invest in a tech city in Ethiopia and encourage other successful Chinese technology firms to further invest in Ethiopia.

Alibaba’s Chairman Jack Ma is scheduled to visit Ethiopia in November this year with a high-level delegation of Chinese investors to help the country promote financial inclusion and bolster its digital economy.

Recently, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) announced it was collaborating with the International Financial Corporation (IFC) and Ant Financial (Ant) to promote digital financial inclusion in Africa, through investment and technical capacity building.

On Friday 3 August 2018, ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, led Ant Financial’s CEO, Eric Jing, and IFC’s VP and Treasurer, Jingdong Hua, to a meeting with President Mulatu Teshome of Ethiopia.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">PM Abiy Ahmed visited the headquarters of e-commerce giant Alibaba, in Hangzhou. Following up on their meeting in Davos, PM Abiy & <a href="https://twitter.com/AlibabaGroup?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AlibabaGroup</a> Chairman Jack Ma shared that this visit is a reflection of a friendship geared towards supporting Ethiopia’s dev’t. 1/2 <a href="https://t.co/zb1TW83AJM">pic.twitter.com/zb1TW83AJM</a></p>— Office of the Prime Minister - Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) <a href="https://twitter.com/PMEthiopia/status/1121368748009644034?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 25, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Ms. Songwe said “Essentially, we were talking (with the president) about IT and the power of IT for financial, social and political inclusion. We have an opportunity to leapfrog technology for social, financial and political inclusion. Today, we are bringing Ant Financial, which has the largest platform for financial inclusion and assists people with very small financial capacity to be involved in the society.”

Ant Financial – an affiliate of the Alibaba Group – runs one of the world’s largest online payment platforms, valued at $150 billion.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 say no one should be left behind and so, it’s thinking of what platforms it can put together to ensure that not only big companies take advantage of the AFCTA but also small companies.

Anti Financial, which has expanded beyond China aims to replicate the company’s success in Africa so that financial inclusion can be enhanced. Ant Financial serves over 650 million people on a daily basis.

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