Alibaba founder and Chief Executive, Jack Ma on Thursday gave a public lecture at the University of Nairobi on empowering African Young Entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Jack Ma is in Africa for the first time as part of his ambassadorial role with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) .
His visit included a courtesy on President Uhuru Kenyatta in the company of UNCTAD secretary general, Dr. Mukisa Kituyi and ICT Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru where they discussed among other things on how Kenyan goods and services can access the global market through the Alibaba platform.
Jack Ma and his entourage of 38 billionaires later found their way to the University of Nairobi where he interacted with students ,stating the need for Africa to find its own way to economic success.
“ Africa does not need to copy China or Europe to be successful it has to find what it is good at and then sell that to the world, it has to find a problem and solve it.” Jack said.
The Chinese billionaire said Africa would play a vital role in the near future because in his words 'it had nothing to lose' that combined with its young populations who are rapidly learning and developing technology was the ingredients of success.
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Jack Ma who spent 800 hours traveling around the world last year and plans to increase that to 1,000 in 2017, also discussed the two topics he is very passionate about; globalization and artificial intelligence.
“I believe the Internet will be the future, I knew Internet would be big but I didn’t know it would be this big I believe 90% of businesses in the future would be online. Today we call people entrepreneurs but in a few years down the line, we will call you net- entrepreneurs because everybody would be online. Today you are the most successful entrepreneur in Nairobi but In the future, if you cannot sell your product across the whole of Africa you will not be successful.”
“The world is changing very fast, this is the 3rd technology revolution human beings are facing, the 1st technology revolution caused the world war I, 2nd technology revolution caused world war II and this is the 3rd technology revolution and likely to cause world war III, the 1st technology revolution reduced the human energy so humans are now not as strong as machines, the 2nd technology revolution reduced the distance and speed of human beings so we can never run faster than planes and trains, this technology revolution has reduced the human brain but don’t be scared.”
“Machines will be smarter than we are, in future we will make machines like people and data, the internet, artificial intelligence and the things coming up, the world is facing a big challenge, it is our job to make sure you are we are within five years of creating new jobs or its gonna disappear and this is the challenge to the world but this is also the opportunity of the world, I think change is the best opportunity, people complaining is the best opportunity” Jack said.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi said Kenya had a chance to lead the African electronic trade revolution since all the necessary tools were available in the country after all Kenya was the home of revolutionary mobile money transfer Mpesa.
Jack Ma has continued to Rwanda where is attending the UN youth summit .