The recent visit to Zambia by China’s richest man Jack Ma hardly received any notice apart from just a milieu of selfie happy airport staff.
Elsewhere on the continent, Ma’s visit has had the entire government machinery going in overdrive to accommodate whatever opportunities come with associating with the charismatic chairman of internet heavyweight firm Alibaba.
Ma is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of the Alibaba Group, one of the world’s biggest e-commerce giants.
At this moment our Ministry of Trade and Commerce and Ministry of Tourism could have had their system closing in on the opportunity to tap into the $34.6 billion worth business magnate
Ma quietly proceeded to Mfuwe on a private visit and enjoying the assortment of wildlife and air that this beautiful country has to offer. Nothing more!
From just a cursory look we may wish to remind ourselves that Ma’s investments beyond Alibaba include stakes in Chinese entertainment industry firms Huayi Brothers and Beijing Enlight Media.
It is not his wealth we are celebrating here but rather the fact that we had such a grand opportunity on our doorstep nobody did seem to bother aside from the selfie happy airport staff. Even they should be commended for having a high sense of recognition.
What do the army of Ministry of Tourism top end officials do? Or their Ministry of Trade and Commerce counterparts? Any visitor to the airport would notice that we have an army of Zambia Tourism Board staff, what do they look out for? Have we become so conditioned to condemning anything Chinese that we have lost sight of recognizing? Well just in case anybody has any doubt how seriously aggressive countries smell and utilize opportunities. In Rwanda, Jack Ma walked straight into first class treatment and embodied as an ambassador of Rwandese tourism. He was set at the head of the Visit Rwanda campaign.
Just in case anyone has any doubts how Rwanda turned Ma’s presence into a business opportunity, here is a snippet of it.
The first Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) in Africa was launched on Wednesday in Kigali, opening doors for small businesses in Africa to take part in cross-border electronic trade. The platform is a result of a partnership between the Government of Rwanda and Alibaba Group.
During the launch, Rwanda and Alibaba Group signed three agreements to facilitate electronic trade in Rwanda and the rest of Africa
President Paul Kagame officiated at the landmark ceremony which was attended by the Alibaba Group founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma.
The agreements signed in Kigali are intended to strengthen cooperation in support of Rwanda’s economic development by promoting policy innovation, enabling cross-border trade of Rwandan products to Chinese consumers, facilitating tourism to Rwanda, and providing capacity building to empower the growth of Rwanda’s digital economy.
After the signing of the agreements, Ma described the event as a “historic day” because the initiative will revolutionise how Rwandans do business, starting from how they sell their top-notch coffee or handcrafts to how they sell their tourism services to the world, including China.
It could appear that in Zambia it would always have to take the President to ensure that people get to work. What excuse do our bureaucrats at the Ministry of Tourism and also Trade and Commerce have for missing such an opportunity?
A more stinging censure should be reserved for the Foreign Affairs staff and the Zambian Embassy in China embassy staff that may not have smelt an opportunity and alerted the relevant authorities of this grand visit. Is it not why they are deployed in the Foreign Service to identify such grand opportunities?
Well you may also not be surprised in South Africa Ma was shepherded straight to the Presidential Palace where Cyril Ramaphosa made the most of the technology mogul.
Shall we always be crying about opportunities and wooing investors or in our minds it can only be done if it is Zambians visiting? The country really needs a re-look at how indifferent it may be to some golden opportunities.
“We are making new rules for the future, we are making improvements for the world trade,” he said, calling on Rwandan businesses to take advantage of the platforms.
We most certainly feel that the Ministry of Trade and Commerce and the Zambia National Tourism Board owe the nation an explanation.
Should we really continue accepting this level of mediocrity from the people that are entrusted to run the daily business of government? Or do we always have to wait for the President to bend down to operational matters?
Is it that opposition championed anti-China sentiments have sunk so deep that our people no longer even recognize the opportunities that China presents?We throw the gauntlet to the public and our followers, to take the Ministry of Trade and Commerce and their counterparts at Ministry of Tourism to task. Someone must explain this or as the more radical brethren love to put it, heads must roll!