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Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba, Visits Nigeria

Jack Ma, co-founder and former Executive Chairman of the Alibaba Group, is currently in Nigeria. The Chinese entrepreneur is attending the Nigeria Digital Economy Summit (NDES), taking place in Abuja.       

Ma was earlier received by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House. Professor Osinbajo said the visit showed Ma’s recognition of “Nigeria’s role in Africa and the world.”    

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“It was a pleasure receiving Jack Ma today at the office,” he said in a tweet. “By leading a team of investors to Nigeria, I hope you see as we do, investment opportunities in Africa’s digital economy, infrastructure, and her people.”

At the NDES, Ma engaged in a panel discussion, in which he described his entrepreneurial journey and took questions from the audience.   

The event, which is still ongoing, is organized by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, and is expected to end on Friday, November 15. 

Although Ma is said to have arrived with other Chinese investors, it’s not yet clear what the engagements the group will have while they are in the country. There is also no information about the duration of their visit.

However, local media reports say that Ma has indicated his willingness to invest in Nigeria, particularly in education, entrepreneurship, e-governance, and e-infrastructure. 

The Chinese billionaire has recently ramped up his involvement with Africa. He launched the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative for entrepreneurs working on the continent, following his first visit to the continent in 2017. The program is expected to award $10 million and empower 100 entrepreneurs over the next ten years.

At the launch of the program in Johannesburg, South Africa, he had spoken of his intention to “share technology with Africa.” He also expressed his desire to visit Nigeria in the near future.

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There have been signs of growing collaboration with local businesses. Recall that in July, Nigerian fintech startup Flutterwave announced a deal with Alipay, a payments company under the Alibaba Group, to establish digital payment channels between Africa and China. That agreement was reported to have been struck with the Chinese conglomerate as part of its move to connect with the African market.

Ma’s arrival in Nigeria comes hot on the heels of a visit by Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Twitter. Analysts say both events show that Nigeria is on the global investment radar. The country’s largely youthful population and its vibrant tech ecosystem appear to be attracting the interest of business leaders and venture capital from across the world.

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Jack Ma was earlier received by VP Yemi Osinbajo at the State House. The VP said the visit showed Ma’s recognition of “Nigeria’s role in Africa and the world.”    

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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