Alibaba’s Jack Ma will step down as chairman of the group. Current CEO Daniel Zhang will take over from Ma, who co-founded in his apartment 19 years ago.

“This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organizational excellence and a culture of talent development,” Ma says in a company statement.

The move was meant to foster long-term growth and reduce its dependence on any one person, according to the company.

However, Ma will stay on the board until 2020. He will also take part in the Alibaba Partnership, a group of senior managers advise the business.

Ma will focus his time and attention on education.

“I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do,” he says. “The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things.”

Last month, Ma was in Johannesburg to launch the $10-million Netrepreneur prize fund for African entrepreneurs.

“Entrepreneurs will drive the African economy: they have the dreams, and it is small business that creates jobs,” Ma says. “We should encourage entrepreneurs and make them the hero.”

He believes that the big opportunity for Africa lies in digitalisation, particularly in the areas of commerce and payment.