Sign up for our free China-Africa Week in Review email newsletter
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Follow CAP on Social Media

Listen to the CAP Podcast

There’s Growing Concern in Kenya Over the Fate of Jack Ma

The apparent disappearance of Alibaba founder Jack Ma is prompting growing concern in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa where the Chinese billionaire has recently built a strong following around his philanthropic ventures.

The Chinese billionaire hasn’t been seen in public or published any kind of social media post since late October, around the same when Chinese regulators halted Alibaba’s $34 billion initial public offering of its Ant Financial unit.

The first indication in Africa that Ma may be in real trouble came when his foundation replaced him as a judge in last November’s filming of the finale of the popular Africa’s Business Heroes entrepreneur competition. 

As recently as October 12th, Ma said he was looking forward to meeting the finalists during the online finale that took place on November 14th.

Ma’s absence is now national news in Kenya and, increasingly, a topic of discussion online. Well-known Nation newspaper columnist Gabriel Ogunda published a scathing denunciation of African governments who eagerly took Jack Ma’s donated PPE materials back in March to help contain the spread of COVID-19, while remaining silent now about his apparent disappearance. 

“Jack Ma is missing, and those African countries he donated PPEs to haven’t bothered to issue a statement yet,” Ogunda said to his 147,000 Twitter followers. “These are the fake friends people were cutting off in 2021,” he added.


  • Get a daily email packed with the latest China-Africa news and analysis.
  • Read exclusive insights on the key trends shaping China-Africa relations.
  • Connect with leading professionals on the China- Africa Experts Network.

You've reached your free monthly article limit.

Subscribe today for unlimited access.

What is The China-Africa Project?


The CAP is passionately independent, non-partisan and does not advocate for any country, company or culture.


A carefully curated selection of the day’s most important China-Africa stories. Updated 24 hours a day by human editors. No bots, no algorithms.


Diverse, often unconventional insights from scholars, analysts, journalist and a variety of stakeholders in the China-Africa discourse.


A unique professional network of China-Africa scholars, analysts, journalists and other practioners from around the world.