The world’s 14th richest man, Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, will be on a two-day visit to Kenya beginning Monday next week.
Mr Ma, who has a fortune valued at nearly $30 billion (Sh3.11 trillion or nearly half of Kenya’s economic output) that makes him Asia’s richest man, will visit the country to share entrepreneurial insights with young people in his capacity as special advisor for youth entrepreneurship and small businesses to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
UNCTAD Secretary- General Mukhisa Kituyi and Mr Ma will make presentations to 500 young business leaders at the University of Nairobi.
“UNCTAD will work with Mr Ma to explore opportunities with local businesses to participate in global trade,” said a brief from UNCTAD ahead of the visit.
Mr Ma has been urging developing countries to look to e-commerce to bolster their economies, instead of creating regulations and taxes that could kill the emerging sector in its infancy.
“We should not discipline the baby before even it is born,” Mr Ma told a gathering in Geneva during UNCTAD’s annual E-Commerce Week convention recently.
Ma spent 800 hours traveling around the world last year and plans to increase that to 1,000 in 2017.
Ma said the emerging opportunities — and risks — from artificial intelligence and globalisation are two of the topics that keep him on the road.
“This is why I’m traveling, talking to all the government and state leaders and telling them move fast. If they do not move fast, there’s going to be trouble,” Ma said. “So when we see something is coming, we have to prepare now. My belief is that you have to repair the roof while it is still functioning,” he told CNBC.
There could be benefits from artificial intelligence, Ma said, as people are freed to work less and travel more.
“I think in the next 30 years, people only work four hours a day and maybe four days a week,” Ma said. “My grandfather worked 16 hours a day in the farmland and (thought he was) very busy. We work eight hours, five days a week and think we are very busy.” (Original reporting by Business Daily. Backgrounding borrowed from CNBC.)