Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Jack Ma, Executive Chairman Alibaba Group, during the official launch of the Electronic World Trade Platform in Kigali

Rwanda Launches Electronic Platform to Promote Economic Development

By Abdi Ali
Published November 4, 2018

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Jack Ma, Executive Chairman Alibaba Group, during the official launch of the Electronic World Trade Platform in KigaliRwanda has launched Africa’s first electronic world trade platform (eWTP) hub to grow its economy.

This follows the signing of three Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Rwanda and a Chinese company called Alibaba Group that will enable Rwanda’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to sell to Chinese consumers, promote Rwandan tourism and empower Rwanda’s digital economy.

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The eWTP is said to be a multi-stakeholder global initiative promoting public-private dialogue to foster effective and efficient policy and business environment to enable 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,” Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s President, says. “There really are no downsides to doing business on a global scale.”

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“I look forward to the development of an innovative digital economy here,” Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, says. “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. With more than half a billion consumers, Alibaba is the world’s largest online commerce company and home to leading cross-border marketplaces where Chinese consumers look to find the highest quality products from around the world. Several brands of Rwandan single origin coffee are already available for sale on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform.

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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.

“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,” says Clare Akamanzi, RDB Chief Executive Officer.

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Alibaba will host a three-day workshop at its Hangzhou headquarters for government officials responsible for the development of Rwanda’s digital economy in January 2019 at which it plans ‘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.

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