Two years after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ethiopia, following the visit of its chairman Jack Ma in Ethiopia, the game-changing e-commerce company is slated to join Ethiopia’s digital economy within the next six months according to Reporter Ethiopia. The e-commerce company, which is nearing implementation, is birthed from the partnership between Alibaba, china’s e-commerce giant, and Ermias Amelga, an Ethiopian business magnate with immense experience in banking, technology, and real estate, among others. How the e-commerce giant arrives at this agreement with an Ethiopian business mogul. Here is the timeline.
Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed visits HQ of e-commerce giant Alibaba in April 2019
After attending the Belt and Road Forum of 2019, Abiy Ahmed, visited the headquarters of the global e-commerce group, Alibaba, in Hangzhou. During the visit, Abiy met with the group CEO, Jack Ma, the second meeting between the two in as many months. “Jack Ma expressed he has been inspired by the reforms that have been undertaken, confirming that Ethiopia is now a key strategic partner which he will visit this year,” the PM’s office confirmed in a social media post.
Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant, The MoU is for Alibaba to establish an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) hub in Ethiopia. The hub aims to facilitate cross-border trade, provide smart logistics and fulfillment services, assist Ethiopian small and micro enterprises (SMEs) reach global markets by providing smart logistics and services, and provide talent training.
Abiy and Ma first met during the World Economic Forum, WEF, held in Davos earlier this year. At the time Jack Ma, Chair and co-founder of the Alibaba Group, said his company will consider potential investment in a tech city in Ethiopia.
Mr. Ma made the statement after he met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia. During their meeting, PM Abiy and Jack Ma discussed the future of disruptive technologies in markets and society.
Alibaba Group is the world’s fifth-largest internet company by revenue, aid on the statement it will consider in Ethiopia if pursued. Alibaba Group with a mission to “enable businesses to transform the way they market, sell, operate and improve their efficiencies.”
Jack Ma inaugurates e-commerce platform in Ethiopia in November 2019
Follwing the Ethiopian Prime Minister of Alibaba Group Head quarter, the Chinese billionaire and entrepreneur arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa earlier in Novmber 2019 to inaugurate a global trade platform in Ethiopia. Both Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Chinese e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma inaugurated the e-WTP.
An Alibaba-led multi-stakeholder global initiative, e-WTP hub promotes public-private dialogue in order to support more inclusive global trade which uses technology and policy innovation to provide greater opportunities for SMEs, women, and youth.
Inaugurating the e-WTP with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Chinese e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma says the trading platform will ensure “Africa can compete with Europe and America.“
Speaking at the e-WTP launch, Jack Ma said: “This is the beginning, that Africa can compete with Europe and America. In the past, we believed in big; for the future, we believe in small; small is beautiful,” he said, noting that e-trading platforms motivate small and medium scale enterprises.
“In the past, the world was divided into developed and developing nations; in the future, this will change to whether you are e-country or not e-country,”
At the time of his visit Jack Ma and the governmenet of Ethiopia signed not only two other memoranda of understanding (MOU) for capacity building and a comprehensive digital hub, but he also pledged $100 million to support entrepreneurship in Ethiopia.
During the inaguration Abiy Ahmed said Ethiopia is transforming itself into a digital economy. The new platform will facilitate the flow of goods across boundaries, e-commerce, retail and wholesale trading in addition to helping Ethiopian youths acquire training in digital skills.
Inking the agreement were Getahun Mekuria (Ph.D.), Ethiopia’s Minister of Innovation and Technology, and Eric Jink, Alibaba Group Director and Ant Financial Services Group Chairman and CEO. Presiding over the signing ceremony were Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Alibaba Group’s Chairman Jack Ma.
Dr. Getahun said the opening of the Ethiopia eWTP hub is “an important step in the development of a digital economy in Ethiopia. It will contribute greatly to trade facilitation and open markets to SMEs not only in Ethiopia but [also] in the wider region.“
Eric Jing, vowing Alibaba will “continue to support the creation of a more inclusive, digitally-enabled global economy, where small businesses can participate in global trade, and look forward to working together with entrepreneurs and SMEs from Ethiopia and other African nations to seize the opportunities provided by the digital era.”
Partnership between Alibaba and Ermias Amelga
According to the Reporter Ethiopia the game-changing e-commerce company is slated to join Ethiopia’s digital economy within the next six months. The e-commerce company, which is nearing implementation, is birthed from the partnership between Alibaba, china’s e-commerce giant, and Ermias Amelga, an Ethiopian business magnate with immense experience in banking, technology and real estate, among others.
“It will take us six months to launch the company and start implementations. There are some challenges such as difficulties in accessing foreign currency, we have partnered with Alibaba, to launch an e-commerce company in Ethiopia. The name of the new company will include Alibaba and another local name that represents us.”
The new e-commerce platform, on which all items in Ethiopian shops will have a digital presence, is expected to place Ethiopia on a new digital economic trajectory, with end-to-end online ordering, e-payment, and delivery systems.
Similarly, the Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration (MoTRI) is also finalizing a new platform that will serve the Chinese community in Ethiopia, which is estimated to be close to 300,000, The Reporter has learnt. The agreements were reached when Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder visited Ethiopia.
The need for digital transaction took-off following the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with measures taken by the central bank to discourage cash usage. The decision to liberalize the telecom sector by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration has also given momentum to the trend. Currently, there are close to 30 e-commerce companies in Ethiopia.
“The existing situation in Ethiopia is enabling e-commerce. Fully digitized e-commerce can be realized gradually,” said Ermias.
A draft electronic transaction regulation, crafted by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MInT) has also been reviewed by the Ministry of Justice and tabled to the Office of the Prime Minister. The Parliament passed the Electronic Transaction proclamation last year.
“Once approved, the e-transaction regulation will enable end-to-end e-commerce service,” said Mandefro Eshete (PhD), legal affairs advisor at MInT. The Ministry of Revenue is already installing technologies that enable e-receipts, among other e-services.
The Electronic World Trade Platform will allow Ethiopia to trade its commodities via the Alibaba Group.