Why Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo is courting one of the world's richest men

At the sidelines of the China-Africa summit, President Addo was captured courting one of the world’s richest men and founder of the world’s largest retail commerce company

Apart from attending the China-Africa Forum for Cooperation (FOCAC) 2018 summit held in Beljing from September 3rd – 4th and attended by more than 1,000 African representatives, the Ghanaian President didn’t stop there and went a step further.

At the sidelines of the China-Africa summit, President Addo was captured courting one of the world’s richest men and founder of the world’s largest retail commerce company, Alibaba  Group.

“Yesterday, I held a meeting with the co-founder and Exec. Chairman of Alibaba Group, Mr. Jack Ma. I urged him to consider establishing the headquarters of Alibaba’s Africa operations in Ghana as Alibaba Group looks to partner countries in Africa and help nurture tech talents,” he tweeted on his official handle.

The 2018 FOCAC meeting seeks to promote economic and trade cooperation between China and African economies by synergizing the China's Belt and Road Initiative and the African Union's Agenda 2063, among other development programmes as well as development strategies of individual African countries.

The China-Africa summit is also a fertile ground for cutting business deals with Chinese investors who have an eye for Africa something President Addo seems to be fully aware of and keen to exploit.

Jack Ma has hinted in the past about his interest to set up businesses in Africa, dubbed the world’s last frontier market.

While speaking at the University of Nairobi in 2017 during his first visit to Africa, Ma urged African countries to chart their own course and not ape Europe or even China in their quest to break from the shackles of poverty and under-development.

“ 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.

He later announced that Alipay, offered by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, will be launched in Kenya as an indigenous company with the aim of creating a payment platform for companies operating in the East African region's largest economy.

A few days later, while in Kigali, Rwanda during the Youth Connekt Africa Summit Jack Ma also announced the creation of a US$10 million African Young Entrepreneurs kitty to support African Online businesses.

I want that fund supporting African online businesses,” said Mr. Ma, who is a Special Adviser to UNCTAD for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business.

“The money is set. This is my money, so I don’t have to get anybody’s approval,” he added.

For its part, Ghana would make the ideal location for the Alibaba’s Africa operations headquarters.

Ghana is one of West Africa’s economic powerhouses and has proved to be one of the most stable African countries, a key quality super-wealthy investors like Jack Ma normally consider before pumping their money into ventures.

In 2017, Ghana was ranked the eighteenth most attractive economy for investments flowing into the African continent by Quantum Global Research Lab.

In 2016, the country attracted a net foreign direct investment of US$3.5 billion.

“Ghana’s democratic attributes are as robust as its economic growth, and by improving policies and institutions, successive governments have been able to build an attractive business climate conducive to growth. These measures include reducing the number of days it takes to register a limited liability company and days spent on resolving commercial disputes in the courts. Furthermore, the election of a new Government in 2016 has revitalised the drive for higher growth and infrastructure investment, all which augurs well for investment opportunities in the country,” said Prof Mthuli Ncube, Head of Quantum Global Research Lab.


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