Chinese business magnate Jack Ma Thursday promised to market Kenya during his tours around the world, citing the country’s massive but largely unexplored potential.
“Will I be the ambassador of African industry and bring more Chinese manufacturing companies here? This is my honour. I will be happy to do that,” said Mr Ma, the executive chairman of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group who was recently crowned the richest person in Asia.
“Introducing Africa to the rest of the world, instead of just introducing Chinese products to Africa, is something I want to do.”
Mr Ma, who spoke at a special session with budding Kenyan entrepreneurs at the University of Nairobi, said the numerous problems that Africa and its citizens face every day provide opportunities to create sustainable ventures for the youth.
“It is a good thing that Kenyans see opportunities and the need to change, which is exactly what I saw in China 20 to 30 years ago,” he said.
The Chinese tycoon praised Kenya’s ICT infrastructure and urged young people to use it as window to trade with the world.
“I am shocked at the speed of the Internet and I have met very many young people with innovative ideas that could change the world,” he said.
Mr Ma said his giant company will source for partnerships locally even as he emphasised that only businesses that create value in people’s lives will thrive.
“We are looking for more partners. This is our vision. We are extremely interested in logistics solutions and those companies that support payments,” said Mr Ma.
The former teacher-turned-businessman urged Kenyan entrepreneurs to think about how the Internet can solve people’s problems, terming it where the opportunity lies.
Mr Ma asked the government and companies to pay special attention to young people, saying they hold the potential for innovations.
“The next 30 years are very crucial especially for those under 30 years as they are the ones who are never scared of trying out new things,” he said.
Earlier Mr Ma met President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, where together with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi they pledged to cooperate in growing trade between Kenya and China.
Citing China’s massive population, Mr Ma said he would campaign for China to be Kenya’s strategic partner in areas like trade and tourism.
“Imagine 130 million people travelling within China. What would happen if a fraction came here?” he posed.