Rwanda and Alibaba set up Africa's first e-trade hub

HE Paul Kagame President of Rwanda and Jack Ma Alibaba Group Executive Chairman during the official Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma, during the official launch of the eWTP in Kigali. (Image source: Alibaba)Rwanda became the first African country to set up an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP)

The eWTP is a multi-stakeholder global initiative promoting public-private dialogue to foster a more effective and efficient policy and business environment to enable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in cross-border electronic trade.

The government of Rwanda and Alibaba have signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen the Rwandan economy by promoting policy innovation, enabling cross-border trade of its products, facilitating tourism and boosting the growth of its digital economy.

The signing of three MoUs, witnessed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma, took place in the capital city of Kigali on 3 November 2018.

Kagame, said, "eWTP opens up new frontiers in e-commerce and tourism for Rwanda, and will also boost the capacity and competitiveness of our entrepreneurs and business people."

"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," he added.

Jack Ma, commented, "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. 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."

Under the agreements, Alibaba will work with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to help Rwandan SMEs sell their products, including coffee and handicrafts, to Chinese consumers through Alibaba's online marketplaces.

Alibaba's travel services platform, Fliggy, and the RDB will also work together to promote Rwanda as a tourist destination through a Rwanda Tourism Store for booking flights, hotels and travel experiences and a Destination Pavilion where Chinese consumers can learn about visiting the country, including its beautiful natural parks, through engaging video content.

Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial will share expertise in inclusive financial tools, such as mobile payments, to support the Rwandan digital economy.

"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," concluded RDB CEO, Clare Akamanzi.

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