(File) Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, attends an award ceremony for rural teachers organised by the Jack Ma Foundation, in Sanya, Hainan province, China Jan 22, 2018. Source: Reuters

Duterte invites Jack Ma to help Philippines with biztech, governance

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte wants to rope in Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma to help the Southeast Asian country upgrade its technology in governance and build an inclusive financial system that assists small businesses.

Philippines Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said Ma, during a recent meeting, told government officials the country had a huge potential to embrace the technology revolution because e-commerce was designed for developing economies, Bloomberg reported.

In a statement from the Philippine finance department, Dominguez said Duterte was impressed with Ma when they met in Manila in November. The president also instructed officials to pursue discussions with the leading technopreneur to find ways in which Alibaba and the government could collaborate.

“I will report to the president that there are many elements here that we could use in the Philippines,” Dominguez said

He was among a group of officials who took part in a new economy workshop by Alibaba Business School between Jan 31 and Feb 2.

Dominguez said the training would help the government understand how it could optimise the use of tech and improve governance, apart from preparing Filipinos for the future under a digital economy.

Topics covered in the workshop included the application of cloud computing and big data platforms – from improving traffic flow and law enforcement to managing financial risks and heightening cybersecurity measures, Dominguez said.

He said the close cooperation between the government and Alibaba would help strengthen bilateral ties between Philippines and China.

The Philippines is the latest country in Southeast Asia to seek help from Alibaba and Ma over transformation to the digital era in both the public and private sectors.

In December, the Alibaba Business School, which was founded in 2008, held programs in Indonesia to improve the ability of small and medium enterprises (SME) in their understanding of the e-commerce industry.

Around 1,000 SME owners participated in the course, with speakers from Taobao University as well as pioneers of the domestic digital economy such as Tokopedia, Lazada Indonesia, UCWeb and Alibaba.com.

In November, Alibaba launched the first Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) outside of China in Malaysia, in an effort to build up their assets in Southeast Asia and exert its influence in the region ahead of domestic rivals.

The launch marks the latest milestone in a series of ventures and investments the Chinese technology giant has made over the last year since the announcement of its intention to work with the Malaysian government.

The launch follows closely on from the company’s announced partnership with the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), and the launch of Malaysia’s first data center by the company.