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Online guru tips Kenyans on e-commerce goldmine

Chinese business magnate Jack Ma has urged Kenyans to speed up efficiency and bank on trade to reap in the technological revolution.

The founder of Alibaba, who is in the country with 38 Chinese millionaires at the invitation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNctad), said yesterday technology is changing very fast and the country — and Africa — must learn to catch up.

“The world is changing very fast and I worry about new technology,” he said, adding that he believes that between 80 and 90 per cent of all business will be online very soon.

“In 20 years we shall be able to make machines that are better than people. This means more jobs will disappear,” he told a symposium at the University of Nairobi.

Earlier in the day Ma, who is the executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce firm, Alibaba Group, met President Uhuru Kenyatta and discussed ways of empowering the youth through entrepreneurship. The talks between him and the President and Ma centred on how to cooperate in supporting small businesses and the youth to play a bigger role in the country’s economy.

The Chinese e-commerce guru said Kenya can create more opportunities for trade through the use of e-commerce and that the country has the capacity to achieve that goal.

President Uhuru said the Chinese businessman is an inspiration for millions of youth in Africa and especially in Kenya where the young generation has been setting global trends in innovation and technology.

The businessman who is worth $41.8 billion (Sh4.2 trillion) also presided over Kenya’s bid to join Empretec — a United Nations-led programme — which promotes entrepreneurship by building capacity for small businesses around the globe.

The Empretec programme was officially launched in Kenya yesterday during a function attended by Unctad Secretary-General Dr Mukhisa Kituyi and Trade cabinet Secretary for Industry Adan Mohamed.

The programme will benefit Kenya with significant integration and skills development of its large, yet unproductive informal sector.

“Empretec can therefore play a central role in inspiring entrepreneurship and developing the right skills to start and grow MSMEs, thus stimulating economic growth through job creation, helping formalise businesses, creating opportunities for and thereby empowering disadvantaged groups such as youth and women and strengthening local productive capacity,” said Kituyi.

Ma will proceed to Rwanda for another symposium today before coming back to Kenya over the weekend to watch the wildebeest migration.

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