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Jack Ma, the executive chairman at Chinese conglomerate Alibaba Group, has announced the launch of a new initiative to encourage African entrepreneurs to come up with quality tech-driven solutions. Dubbed the Jack Ma Foundation Netpreneur Prize, the new initiative is a $10 million program expected to further fuel Africa’s relatively small but thriving technology-centric entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem.

With more than 50 sovereign states in the continent, most of which are yet to rank high on the entrepreneurship scale, Africa indeed has a lot to gain from innovative ideas in the field of ICT. Despite being physically close to each other, the independent countries in the continent have to work around many hassles such as cross-border systems, inadequate supply, inefficient supply chains, diversity in languages, and so on. With all those factors taken into account, the new initiative by the Alibaba boss is expected to go a long way in encouraging promising entrepreneurs and startups in the region to buckle up and prepare themselves for the challenges ahead.

Ma, who is also serving as an advisor to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on youth entrepreneurship and small business, said the following about this new initiative: “China was not connected to the internet the day I started my company. This is a challenge that parts of Africa still face today.”. He also added that “This prize demonstrates our support for the next generation of young entrepreneurs across Africa who are paving the way for a better future and imparting a positive change in their communities. As a fellow entrepreneur, I understand the importance of getting support during the early days”.