China’s tips to help Africa in digital growth




During the World Economic Forum, on the Africa event, in Cape Town, South Africa, Alibaba Group vice president Brian Wong explained what are the winning strategies to grow Africa and its digital economy



There are still those who find it hard to believe, but only 20 years ago China was not the world power it is now. An example? In 1999, when Alibaba was launched as a company, China had a large population, rudimentary retail infrastructures, only 8.8 million Internet users and a per capita income of $ 800. But now these numbers have risen to 850 millions of Internet users, an income per capital of $ 9,000 and a total e-commerce turnover of $ 1 trillion.

A true revolution has its secrets and techniques. Techniques and secrets that Alibaba Group Vice President Brian Wong plans to reveal to Africa to see its digital economy grow just like China did when it began its rapid expansion 20 years ago.


According to WEF, the two-thirds of Africa’s 420 million young people that are unemployed highlights a need for new solutions to drive employment growth


The fundamental element that makes Africa one of the best candidates is precisely the lack of retail infrastructure, poor Internet penetration and low per capita income. This was stated by Wong, head of global Alibaba initiatives, during the panel that discusses “The retail trade revolution” in Africa.

“Most people would believe this is impossible unless you have a very developed infrastructure. The reality is that not having a developed, say, retail infrastructure, banking infrastructure, logistics infrastructure, provided an opportunity in China for people to leapfrog the traditional sector and go straight into digital. And that’s why the growth has been so immense,” said Wong.


Fifteen years ago, China accounted for less than 5% of global e-commerce sales, Wong said, but today is 43%


“The opportunity that China had is what Africa has today. That lack of traditional economic infrastructure, like retail and banking systems, means that Africa can leapfrog” he said.

“The end result will be that more value will be created between Africa between China and the rest of the world and that trade will flourish because more companies can participate in trade rather than just large companies,” Wong said during the panel


Among the most interesting initiatives in Africa with Chinese support is certainly the $ 10 million initiative for the Netpreneur Africa prize, supported by Jack Ma


Furthermore, Alibaba is a founding member of WEF’s new Africa Growth Platform, which will work to bring together governments, investors and entrepreneurs to increase access to funding and create better business environments for the continent’s startups.

Alibaba is among six founding members that will work to secure commitments from governments to implement policy reforms aimed at stimulating and accelerating business growth, build a community of investors to provide larger rounds of funding to African startups.




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