Alibaba : Osinbajo, Alibaba chief discuss Nigeria's digital economy's prospects

Nov 18, 2019

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo last week hosted a delegation of Chinese entrepreneurs, led by billionaire businessman and co-founder of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Alibaba Group Holding Limited is a Chinese multinational company with investments in e-commerce, retail, Internet and technology.

Osinbajo and Ma spoke on opportunities in Nigeria's digital economy and the nation's huge population with its advantages.

The vice-president thanked Ma for honouring the invitation he extended to him to visit Nigeria when they met at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Cologny-Geneva, Switzerland.

He said Nigeria represents incredible opportunity and potential as it will, in another two decades, become the third largest in terms of population in the world.

Osinbajo said the Alibaba group had achieved a lot in broadening the scope of business and activities for people everywhere.

'If there is anything you have achieved, for the politician, we say you have democratised business.

'It is a great achievement. I think it is something we will like to learn from and benefit from, especially as we open up government businesses and transactions and make them more efficient for the use of our people.

'This is an exciting time for us and we are very happy that you are here. A lot of businesses and entrepreneurs are looking forward to your interacting with them later today.

'I think you will find a very energetic, very creative group of young men and women and old men and women who are increasingly getting interested in entrepreneurship, especially digital entrepreneurship. I am happy to see that you have a good group of businesses from China.

'I hope it will create an opportunity to start investigating business opportunities in Nigeria and I really hope that we will be able to do something and create some opportunities here,' he said.

Osinbajo assured his guest that Nigeria has many entrepreneurs and young people who are actively engaged in digital economy.

The Vice-President said the Federal Government started a job programme for young people, called N-Power, where half a million youths were engaged.

He added that the government had to build the e-infrastructure to make the programme happen.

Osinbajo said a system was developed in which N-Power beneficiaries were paid online and online materials were put in open and accessible portals for them.

'They also have equipment which enables them to train as extension workers for farm; we train them to teach also using the open portal; and it has proved to tremendously successful.'

'We have a programme called broadband connectivity for all by 2023; which basically is to see how we can deepen connectivity across the country by 2023 and we are looking just as you said about e-government.

'That is also crucial because government tend to be viewed with a great deal of suspicion; nobody is quite sure of what government is up to all the time.

'I think that the government can benefit from the efficiency that digital economy provides,' he said.

Ma said Chinese entrepreneurs were bringing four 'Es' to Africa.

He said the first 'e' was e-infrastructure; to support internet connection to all parts of Africa as it hoped that every young people, every small business should have a mobile phone to run their businesses anywhere, anytime.

'We hope to support e-entrepreneurs; we want to make entrepreneurs the heroes of the African continent, it is the entrepreneurs that promote business development in China; government support entrepreneur with the infrastructure they need.

'If the government is on 'e', government will be very efficient, transparent and the people know what the government can do and the government know what the people want.

'The last and very important is e-education; in the next few days, we are going to have African e-entrepreneur prize; so all the African countries can apply for our awards.

'So, I am very happy to hear that four Nigerian entrepreneurs are right among the top 10; we will be in the final competition in two days and I think Nigerian entrepreneurs will have a great result.

'It is just the beginning for us; our job is to support entrepreneurs because we are all entrepreneurs; we are all founders of our own businesses in China,' he said.

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