Ma is putting his weight behind a UN call for e-commerce to boost developing economies and help fight poverty.
Ma has some weight as a UN advisor to its trade and development agency UNCTAD for small business and young entrepreneurs.
He said that the internet should be treated as a utility and should be treated also as the infrastructure of global development.
“Everything will be online and everything online will have data. And data will be the energy for innovation.”
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said he and Ma would meet in Kigali in July with 10 African presidents and young entrepreneurs, aiming to persuade the politicians of their responsibility to help their young populations realise their potential.
Ma said his first trip to Africa would focus on e-commerce payment to support inclusive and sustainable development, as well as education and environmental protection.
He said Alibaba had created 33 million jobs in China because each small business online could create at least three jobs. He met US President-elect Donald Trump in January and said the firm would create a million US jobs.
Earlier, a group of developing countries launched a roadmap for using e-commerce to drive growth, narrow the digital divide and help poorer countries develop.