Rwanda’s strong economic growth after the genocide has been accompanied by a substantial improvement in the standard of living, with a two-thirds drop in infant mortality and almost total enrolment into schools. The emphasis on local policies and initiatives has led to significant improvements in access to services and human development indicators.
Rwanda has become in a few years an attractor to international investments, the most recent being that of Alibaba, China’s world leader in e-commerce. On October 31, 2018, in Kigali, President of the Republic of Rwanda Paul Kagame and Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma inaugurated the first African hub of the company’s global e-commerce platform. It will enable small and medium-sized Rwandan companies and neighbouring countries to offer their products and services in the global market to millions of potential customers through the Alibaba platform.
The meeting also saw the signing of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between the two parties in the areas of e-commerce, tourism, electronic payment and capacity building, as part of the electronic work program. Alibaba’s Travel Services Platform and the Rwanda Development Board will also collaborate to promote Rwanda as a tourist destination through a Rwandan tourist shop for booking flights, hotels and experiences and a destination pavilion to familiarise Chinese consumers with Rwanda.
According to the co-founder and executive chairman of the Chinese e-commerce company, the idea of creating an eWTP hub in Rwanda has given rise to many negative opinions. Jack Ma said many people have doubted Rwanda’s ability to become an eWTP hub. They said that the country does not have “sophisticated Internet, logistics, market, payment and everything is not ready. And I said, that’s why we came here. ” “When other people complain, we take this opportunity and Africa today is much better than China 90 years ago,” he said.
The African hub of Alibaba Group’s global e-commerce platform is the second largest of the company outside of China. The first was installed in Malaysia in November 2017. Jack Ma said: “I have been waiting for this day for almost ten years. Ten years ago, when I founded Alibaba, I knew that the Internet would change the world. ”
Alibaba also announced plans to invest US$320 million in Thailand’s on a digital free-trade zone. The Thailand hub, is expected to be commissioned in 2019, and aims at exporting agricultural products from Thailand to China.