The Nigerian government held a preliminary meeting with cryptocurrency exchange Binance to potentially establish a special economic zone intended to support cryptocurrency and blockchain-related businesses.
According to a Friday post from the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), the authority has held preliminary talks with Binance and tech infrastructure company Talent City to discuss the proposed digital city, dubbed the “Virtual Free Zone.”
NEPZA managing director Adesoji Adesugba said the proposed zone will be the first in West Africa and will act similarly to Dubai’s virtual zones, which are designed to provide crypto-friendly laws, regulations and tax incentives for businesses. of cryptocurrencies.
Professor Adesoji Adesugba (NEPZA MD/CEO), Sameera Kimatrai (Binance Senior Legal Counsel), Luqman Edu (Talent City CEO), Sikiru Lawal (NEPZA Director). pic.twitter.com/73scHU4hYE
— NEPZA (@officialNEPZA) September 2, 2022
Speaking to Cointelegraph, a Binance spokesperson said that the motive behind the plan was to drive long-term economic growth through digital innovation:
“As we continue to support blockchain adoption across the African continent, Binance looks forward to collaborating with the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority to establish a virtual free zone with the goal of generating long-term economic growth through digital innovation”.
“We look forward to sharing key details when plans have been finalized,” the Binance spokesperson added.
Nigeria has one of the highest cryptocurrency adoption rates in the world, with more than 22 million cryptocurrency owners, according to Triple A.
Adesugba said the zone would help develop Nigeria’s digital economy and “expand employment opportunities” for Nigerian citizens, stating:
“Our goal is to generate a thriving virtual free zone to take advantage of a virtual economy of almost a trillion dollars in blockchains and digital economy.”
Initial plans were discussed on Friday during a meeting between Adesugba, Binance CEO Nadeem Ladki, Talent City CEO Luqman Edu, and NEPZA director Sikiru Lawal in Dubai.
Adesugba added that the move would be part of Nigeria’s economic development agenda, with a view to further boosting cryptocurrency adoption in the West African region.
“We seek to break new ground in expanding economic opportunities for our citizens in line with the Authority’s mandate, the Hon’ble Minister’s directive and President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic development agenda,” he said.
Related: Safe Space: A Guide to Crypto Special Economic Zones, From China to Switzerland
Driven by an inadequate financial system and unstable government policies and inflation, cryptocurrency adoption in Africa has continued to rise in recent years.
A recent CoinGecko survey found that residents of Nigeria are the most crypto-obsessed nation, searching for the terms “cryptocurrency” and “buy cryptocurrency” more than any of the other 14 countries surveyed.
Nigeria also launched eNaira in October 2021, the nation’s first central bank digital currency (CBDC), which is currently in its second phase and aims to boost financial inclusion by onboarding Nigeria’s unbanked citizens.
Cointelegraph reached out to Binance for more details on the discussions, but did not receive an immediate response.