Itana, formerly known as Talent City, has secured $2 million from LocalGlobe, Pronomos Capital, and Future Africa, to build what it describes as “Africa’s first digital free zone”. “We aim to be the go-to online jurisdiction for global technology companies scaling across Africa, built upon three key pillars: governance, infrastructure, and community,” Itana disclosed in a statement.
Founded by ex-Andela and Flutterwave co-founder Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Luqman Edu, and Coco Liu, Itana wants to use its online jurisdiction to enable tech-focused businesses and startups to incorporate and operate fully online as a free zone enterprise, leveraging several business services and tax incentives, immigration, banking, investment, and protection.
“We’ll be able to extend the benefits that traditional industries have always benefited from, including FDI investments to the digital and service industry,” Edu told TechCrunch.
Aboyeji believes that with the Nigeria Startup Act and the appointment of CcHub founder, Bosun Tijani, as minister of digital economy in Nigeria, Itana will be able to effectively drive its mission of becoming a digital city. “Bosun’s emergency as a minister, especially given his penchant for focusing government funding on Nigerian incorporated businesses and the plans for the Nigeria stock exchange to allow companies in the free zone to go public in dollars. It could be the perfect storm that brings our companies home,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch.
Itana listed the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) as one of its partners. In September 2022, we reported that NEPZA was in talks with Itana and Binance to establish a digital economic zone to help entrepreneurs fast-track blockchain technology in the West African nation.
“When the laws governing free zones were started in Nigeria, they only considered the physical aspect. Then why not? Suppose physical private free zones have been invested in and scaled. Why would that not be the case for a digital free zone designed specifically for the service and digital economy led by the private sector?”, according to Edu.
Aside from the digital free zone, Itana disclosed last year that it secured over $10 million to build a charter city in the Lekki Free Zone, on the outskirts of Nigeria's commercial city Lagos. As of last year, Itana said that the 72,000-square-meter plot of land intends to house 1,000 residents and 2,500 remote workers. The project's first phase will be completed in the next four years.