Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma on Friday called on African governments to promote entrepreneurship to address high levels of unemployment on the continent.
He was speaking at the Africa business breakfast roundtable hosted by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on the sidelines of the YouthConnekt Africa Summit which opened on Thursday in Kigali.
“Africa governments should encourage the culture of entrepreneurship and growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to alleviate many of the continent’s social and economic problems.
“Most especially, high employment rate, poverty and hunger,’’ Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said.
According to him, Africa should have the same goal and desire to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth to take the bulk of its population out of poverty.
“African countries need to diversify and expand their sources of economic growth while creating opportunities for more inclusiveness.
“Creating jobs through entrepreneurship will also help the continent achieve higher growth rates,’’ he emphasised.
Ma called on African countries to take advantage of technology and the internet and sell Africa-made products abroad.
On whether Jack will invest in Africa, he said: “yes we are considering investing in Africa and the value shall be to sell African products and services to the rest of the world using online service.
“Mr Ma, your story reminds us of who we are as Rwandans, that with resilience you can transcend all odds and become successful,’’ Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive Officer of RDB said.
The three-day YouthConnekt Africa Summit is organised by the government of Rwanda, in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and UNDP.
The theme of the summit was “Realising Africa’s Youth Potential.’’
The event attracted about 2,800 participants including top executives from multinational companies that operate in Africa, leaders of Civil Society Organisations, Africa’s development partners and members of the academia.
Other participants are successful entrepreneurs, youth entrepreneurs, members of startup companies, artists and youth opinion leaders from 90 countries to interact and discuss on enhancing the potential of the youth in Africa.