In a quest to create a conducive and digitally-driven business environment in Nigeria, positioning the country as a hub for the growing digital and service industry in Africa, a Nigerian startup is making waves with its groundbreaking project.

Notably, Nigeria is known for its private and government-led free zones that have historically attracted oil, gas, and manufacturing ventures and have driven success for these ventures.

This is why Nigerian-based company Itana, formerly known as Talent City, is aiming to establish Africa's first digital free zone tailored for businesses in the digital and service industry. The goal is to extend the same benefits enjoyed by traditional industries, such as foreign direct investment (FDI), to the digital and service sectors.

To support its vision, Itana has secured $2 million in pre-seed funding from various investors, including Future Africa, LocalGlobe, Amplo, and Pronomos Capital.

Founded by CEO Luqman Edu, COO Coco Liu and Flutterwave co-founder Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, a founding investor, Itana seeks to provide an entirely online business environment, allowing global and pan-African digital and service companies to use Nigeria as a hub for operations across the continent.

Through strategic partnerships with the Nigerian government, Itana is looking to offer a comprehensive online platform called Itana Edge in the initial phase of the project. Much like globally recognized tech solutions such as Stripe Atlas in the U.S. and e-Estonia in Europe, this platform will grant international businesses access to an array of incentives—ranging from favourable taxation and business visas to banking services, capital repatriation, and supportive legislative frameworks.

Remarkably, this initiative will enable global tech and service companies to base their African operations in Nigeria and take advantage of these competitive business policies and incentives without the need for physical presence in a Nigerian-free zone.

With an ambitious plan to become Africa’s Silicon Valley, Itana will kick off its pilot program with select companies in Nigeria in the coming weeks and plans to go live in the first quarter of 2024.

These businesses will have access to the prospective 72,000-square-meter “live-work-build” campus called Itana District, which is under development. Its development is intended to accommodate permanent residents and visitors for digital community networking events, co-working, and co-living. The first phase of this campus will be completed by 2027.