The Nigerian government is in discussions with crypto exchange Binance regarding a potential crypto-friendly economic zone similar to Dubai’s virtual free zone.
On 2 September, the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), announced that it had held preliminary meetings with Binance and tech infrastructure firm Talent City to talk over the proposed “first Virtual Free Zone in West Africa”.
The zone would focus on blockchain and the digital economy, making Nigeria a hub for global digital assets and promoting long term economic growth, NEPZA said in a press release.
“Our goal is to engender a flourishing virtual free zones to take advantage of a near trillion dollar virtual economy in blockchains and digital economy,” Adesoji Adesugba, NEPZA’s managing director, said in the statement.
NEPZA, which operates free zones and regulates exports across Nigeria, envisions the end result as being much akin to Dubai’s virtual free zone.
Binance helped Dubai establish a hub for digital assets in December 2021 to encourage economic growth and incentivise crypto companies to become licenced in the city.
At the time, Binance said the goal with Dubai was “to assist crypto exchanges, businesses that offer blockchain… services, and a wide range of digital currencies and assets to become licensed” within the emirate’s borders.
NEPZA’s early-stage plans were discussed at a meeting between Adesugba, fellow NEPZA director Sikiru Lawal, Binance executive director Nadeem Ladki, and Talent City CEO Luqman Edu.
“We seek to break new grounds to widen economic opportunities for our citizens in line with the mandate of the Authority, the directive of the Honourable Minister and the economic development agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari,” Adesugba added.
Nigeria consistently ranks as having one of, if not the highest, rates of cryptocurrency adoption in the world.
Crypto data platform CoinGecko recently found Nigeria to be the most crypto-obsessed nation out of a survey of 15 countries, having searched terms such as “invest in crypto” and “buy crypto” moreso than any other.
Due to inefficient financial systems and poor macroeconomic policies, crypto adoption across Africa has outpaced many European nations in recent years.
The West African nation was also the second in the world to launch a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in October last year, after the Bahamas’ sand dollar. Currently in its second phase of implementation, the eNaira has been used to carry out transactions worth four billion naira (£8.1m) as of August.
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