The Ethiopian government on Monday signed three agreements with Alibaba Group to join the Electronic World Trade Platform, an Alibaba-led initiative that aims to lower barriers to global trade for small and medium-sized enterprises through e-commerce.
The eWTP hub, the second in Africa after Rwanda, will serve as a gateway for Ethiopian products to China and new markets, as well as offer support in smart logistics and fulfillment, and talent training, the e-commerce giant said.
“Today’s signing of the Ethiopia eWTP Hub is an important step in the development of a digital economy in Ethiopia,” said Getahun Mekuria, Ethiopia’s minister of innovation and technology. “This engagement will greatly contribute to trade facilitation and open markets to SMEs not only in Ethiopia but in the wider region.”
Speaking during the ceremony, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma said that Ethiopia needed the four “Es” in order to connect its economy with global markets: education, e-government, e-frastructure and entrepreneurs. Education is critical for any uptick in economic strength, he said, while governance handled online is more efficient and more transparent. In addition, larger and faster internet networks were essential for business today, and entrepreneurship was a driving force for job creation in any economy, Ma added.
“Today is the beginning of the digital period for Ethiopia, we need to cultivate entrepreneurship, we need to cultivate the sprint of innovation, driving for speed, results and efficiency,” Ma said.
“Africa never lacks talents – Ethiopia has 30 million young people,” Ma said, adding that the continent wasn’t short on resources or opportunity, either. “What we lack is a group of pioneers that can explore the future and believes in the future.”