In its pursuit of establishing a digitally-driven and favourable business environment in Nigeria, with the aim of positioning the country as a hub for the burgeoning digital and service industry in Africa, a Nigerian startup is gaining significant attention with its innovative project.
It’s worth noting that Nigeria has traditionally been recognized for its private and government-established free zones, which have historically been magnets for industries such as oil, gas, and manufacturing, contributing to their success.
That’s precisely the mission of the Nigerian-based company Itana, formerly known as Talent City. It strives to create Africa’s inaugural digital free zone, specifically designed to cater to businesses in the digital and service industry. The objective is to replicate the advantages traditional industries, like foreign direct investment (FDI), have historically enjoyed and extend them to the digital and service sectors.
In pursuit of its vision, Itana has successfully secured $2 million in pre-seed funding from diverse investors, including Future Africa, LocalGlobe, Amplo, and Pronomos Capital
Founded by CEO Luqman Edu, COO Coco Liu, and Flutterwave co-founder Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, who also serves as a founding investor, Itana is on a mission to establish a fully digital business ecosystem. This ecosystem will enable global and pan-African digital and service companies to utilize Nigeria as a central hub for their operations across the African continent.
Through strategic partnerships with the Nigerian government, Itana is set to introduce a comprehensive online platform known as Itana Edge in the initial phase of its ambitious project. Much like globally recognized tech solutions such as Stripe Atlas in the U.S. and e-Estonia in Europe, this platform will provide international businesses access various incentives. These incentives will encompass favorable taxation, simplified business visa procedures, access to banking services, capital repatriation options, and supportive legislative frameworks.
This remarkable initiative will empower global tech and service companies to establish their African operations in Nigeria, capitalizing on these competitive business policies and incentives, all without needing a physical presence within a Nigerian-free zone.
With the ambitious aspiration of transforming into Africa’s Silicon Valley, Itana is set to launch its pilot program with select companies in Nigeria in the upcoming weeks and aims to go live in the first quarter of 2024.
These chosen businesses will gain access to the prospective 72,000-square-meter “live-work-build” campus known as Itana District, which is currently in development. This campus is designed to host permanent residents and visitors, offering facilities for digital community networking events, co-working spaces, and co-living arrangements. The completion of the first phase of this innovative campus is targeted for 2027.