Taking some time away from constructing a global eCommerce empire, Jack Ma, executive chairman of Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba, recently aligned himself with other philanthropic executives and a UN initiative by saying that the internet should be available to the entire world.
The statement and its sentiment come as part a broader push by the UN to drive global development via eCommerce.
At a conference on eCommerce for development, Ma has positioned himself behind a UN Call for eCommerce to fight poverty and boost developing economies, said Reuters. Ma is currently an adviser on small business and young entrepreneurs to UNCTAD, the UN trade and development agency.
“The internet should be treated as a utility and should be treated also as the infrastructure of global development,” Ma was quoted as saying. “Everything will be online, and everything online will have data. And data will be the energy for innovation.”
Ma looks to bring a group of Chinese business leaders to Kigali, Rwanda, this summer to meet with UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi, African presidents and young entrepreneurs to work to build out entrepreneurial opportunities across the continent.
Ma reportedly said that this trip, his first to Africa, would focus on how eCommerce payment could support sustainable development, education and environmental protection. He reportedly pointed to the 33 million jobs he has helped to create in China as well as the 1 million jobs the company plans to grow in the U.S.
The speech came after a group of developing countries reportedly launched an eCommerce growth roadmap as a means to close the digital divide.
Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan had reportedly said that only half the world’s population would be online by the end of 2017 — 40 percent in the developing world and 15 percent in poorer countries.
Additionally, Khan noted that the offline population in developing countries is mostly poor, female, elderly, less educated and in rural areas.