Why Jack Ma went to Kenya, Rwanda with 38 Chinese billionaires in tow

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba visited Kenya and Rwanda as part of his role as a special adviser on youth entrepreneurship to the UN.

Story highlights

  • Jack Ma, Asia's richest man and Founder of Alibaba Group is in East Africa.
  • 38 fellow billionaires accompanied Ma, who is also a UN special adviser on youth entrepreneurship.

Perez Tigidam is a brand consultant and media entrepreneur based in Lagos, Nigeria. He leads the strategy effort at Arden & Newton brand management company, he is also the founder and publisher of The Nerve Africa, a business news publication covering the new economy, business and innovation across Africa.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)Jack Ma, Asia's richest man and founder of Alibaba Group is on a two-day trip to east Africa, visiting Kenya and Rwanda with 38 fellow Chinese billionaires, all no doubt poised with expensive fountain pens, ready to ink billion dollar deals.

East Africa has become an attractive investment destination in recent years, owing to its improved business environment.
According to Ernst & Young's 2016 Africa attractiveness program, east African countries recorded the highest share of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa, achieving 26.3 percent of total projects.
    Governments across the region have continued to build structures ready for every investment opportunity. The most important structures have been built in countries like Kenya and Rwanda, where the government has shown great support for innovation and entrepreneurship.
    Mobile payment platforms M-pesa, M-shwari and M-kopa are all successful stories highlighting Kenyan innovation, which has been fostered by incubation spaces such as iHub and supported by companies like IBM, Intel and Google, operations in Nairobi.
    Similar structures are present in Rwanda, where a new business can be registered in just six hours. K-Lab, Think by Tigo and The Office are well known in Rwanda for nurturing several startups in the country, including mobile technologies company Hehe Ltd.
    What I learned as a Westerner inside China's internet giant Alibaba