October 13, 2018 / 8:23 AM / 2 months ago

Alibaba's Jack Ma says in talks with Indonesia on tech training institute

(This Oct. 13 story corrects to clarify training plan is under discussion, removes references to the number people to be trained and timeframe in paragraphs 1-2)

Alibaba Group co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma gestures during a seminar at the International Monetary Fund - World Bank Annual Meeting 2018 in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, October 12, 2018. REUTERS/Johannes P. Christo

By Gayatri Suroyo

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Jack Ma, executive chairman of China’s Alibaba Group Holding, said on Saturday he is discussing with Indonesia’s government the possibility of opening an institute to train tech entrepreneurs in the Southeast Asian country.

Ma, who already advises the government on e-commerce, said he had talks with the government about opening a Jack Ma Institute of Entrepreneurs, but no specific details had been agreed.

“We’re giving a lot of opportunities for young Indonesian people to learn,” Ma told reporters after meeting Indonesian ministers on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings being hosted by Indonesia.

The co-founder of Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce firm, said it is important for Indonesia to invest in human capital because “only when people improve, when people’s minds change, when people’s skills improve, then we can enter the digital period”.

Indonesia has a shortage of trained engineers in technology and Jack Ma said Alibaba will train hundreds of developers and engineers on cloud computing to help make Indonesian businesses more digital-savvy.

The country is a key market for Alibaba, whose cloud computing arm Alibaba Cloud launched a data center in Indonesia in March.

Ma said his company would continue to invest “not only on e-commerce, but also cloud computing, logistics and...infrastructure” in Indonesia, while also helping local businesses to grow.

Indonesian Communications Minister Rudiantara told Reuters in September that Indonesia was partnering with Ma to look into ways to harness Alibaba’s businesses to increase its exports, particularly to China.

McKinsey estimated in a report released on Aug. 30 that the value of Indonesia’s e-commerce market will surge to at least $55 billion (£42 billion) by 2022 from $8 billion in 2017.

On Friday, Ma told a panel discussion at the IMF and World Bank meetings that “the internet is designed for developing countries”, with “great opportunities in Africa” also.

Additional reporting by Ed Davies in NUSA DUA; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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