The Nigerian government, via the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), has announced plans to establish virtual free trade zones in collaboration with Binance, a leading cryptocurrency exchange.
According to the authority’s statement, the partnership intends to create a digital hub “similar to the Dubai virtual free zone.”
Virtual free trade zones use cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence, data integration, and automated processes to assist local businesses and reduce the red tape associated with import and export procedures.
This comes as Nigeria looks to digital technology to diversify its economy away from crude oil, capitalizing on an increasingly connected and youthful population.
Mr Adesoji Adesugba, in a statement signed by Mr Martins Odey, Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA, stated that the collaboration was necessary following meetings with officials from the two companies on Friday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The authority’s Chief Executive Officer explained that once agreed upon, the partnership would be similar to the Dubai Virtual Free Zone.
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The NEPZA boss presented the vision of his management which centres on expanding the frontiers of innovations in the operations and management of free zones in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
“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. Our goal is to engender flourishing virtual free zones to take advantage of a near trillion dollar virtual economy in blockchains and digital economy,” Mr Adesugba said.
Binance was represented at the parley by Mr Nadeem Ladki, its Executive Director, Regional Strategic Partnerships and Sameera Kimatrai, Binance Senior Legal Counsel.
Also in attendance were Mr Luqman Edu, Chief Executive of Talent City and Mr Sikiru Lawal, NEPZA’s Director of Projects & Procurement.
This year, the government enacted regulations for trade in digital assets after Nigerians saw cryptocurrencies as a safe haven from worsening foreign exchange crisis and low investment yield.