Africa: Rural E-Commerce Model Pitched for Africa

Money Transfer

Geneva — The operator of an e-commerce program which reaches deep into rural China believes that its business model could help Africans in areas far from cities.

Sun Lijun is a vice president of the giant Chinese online trading giant, Alibaba, and general manager of Rural Taobao, the company's e-commerce wing which serves areas where the economy lags behind that in the rapidly-developing cities.

Sun recently delivered the main address at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) E-Commerce Week in Geneva, drawing admiring applause during his presentation.

He believes that with help from governments, his model for rural e-commerce can be applied in South Africa and in other countries in Africa.

"We work with local and county governments in China and we believe that with the right backing systems like Alipay could be extended into rural areas in countries like South Africa, stimulating the economies there," said Sun in an interview with

Alibaba's Alipay is one of China's biggest payment services and is extending into Europe. Partnerships are key as they promote the platform, getting merchants to lock into its buying and selling arena.

China is a key economic player in Africa and its investment across the continent has skyrocketed in recent years from $7 billion in 2008 to $26 billion in 2013, according to figures cited at a recent Africa Business Forum held by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School.
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