NEPZA to inaugurate policy consultation on blockchain operations at free zones

He said that his team received multiple presentations on the need for crypto exchanges and hubs within the Nigerian special economic zones to tap into multi-billion dollar revenue streams which presently eluded Nigeria.

 

The Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), says it is considering the opening up of Nigerian free zones space to blockchain tech and crypto currency operations.

 

The Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof Adesoji Adesugba said this when two blockchain firms visited him to make submissions on their proposals for blockchain operations in Nigerian free zones areas.

 

Adesugba, in a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja by Mr Martins Odeh, Head Corporate Communications, NEPZA, said that the consideration followed requests from local and international players.

 

He said that his team received multiple presentations on the need for crypto exchanges and hubs within the Nigerian special economic zones to tap into multi-billion dollar revenue streams which presently eluded Nigeria.

 

“I have also been approached at various international gatherings and events on why Nigeria, in spite her fiscal pressure, is comfortable losing so much in capital gains tax to neighbouring nations.

 

“We are aware of various reports and studies that indeed confirm operations of blockchain technology in many special economic zones all over the world.

 

“Our management is, therefore, considering inaugurating policy consultation with sister agencies on the need for a regulating framework on this emerging field.

 

“It is worrisome that Nigeria is said to be losing billions of dollars annually in capital gains tax paid to other nations even though the crypto transactions took place in Nigeria,’’ the NEPZA boss said.

 

He further said that statistics on crypto operations pile up more pressure.

 

“Nigeria is currently the number one in terms of people searching for “Bitcoin” and “Crypto” keywords on Google, with more than 6.3 per cent of the entire population owning at least one type of crypto currency.

 

“In the Chainalysis 2021 Global Crypto Adoption Index, Nigeria is ranked sixth out of the top 20 countries in terms of crypto currency adoption.

 

“It is important for us to develop a robust blockchain policy in line with current international trends.

 

“And we hope to be able to consider interested organisations for capacity and development of blockchain tech within the free zones.

 

“In policy formulation and implementation, we shall definitely invite all the stakeholders including large crypto exchanges such as Binance, Coinbase, Crypto.com, and other young local operators.’’

 

Adesugba said that this would bring access to technology and expand the capacity of the sector to employ estimated 250, 000 youths.

 

“Leaving this vast field unregulated appears to constitute huge economic loss to the nation. We hope to come up with a draft perspective after due consultations,” Adesugba said.

 

Earlier, the Finlease in its submission sought the endorsement of NEPZA for the establishment of Lekki International Financial Centre at the Lekki Free Zone (LIFCFZ).

 

The Managing Director of Finlease, Dr Sunday Sijuade, said the planned Lekki International Financial Centre would cover offshore crypto zone to cater for crypto currencies.

 

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According to him, it is to become an offshore destination for crypto exchanges, digital assets and virtual assets.

 

According to Sijuade, the proposal is in line with international trends across global special economic zones.

 

He cited examples of Chinese Financial free zones in Shanghai and the United Arab Emirates’ International Finance Centre where such Innovation had been introduced into the free zones.

 

The statement also quoted Mr Segun Olugbile, the Managing Director of Araba Technology Limited as proposing the establishment of a high tech digital infrastructure free zone to provide top end cyrpto and blockchain tech services.

 

Olugbile, in his submission, noted that opening up the zones to blockchain operations would provide necessary backbone to the development of digital economy in Nigeria and Africa.

 

He called on the management of NEPZA to create a regulatory framework to enable seamless operation of the proposed blockchain financial exchanges and centre.

 

 

(NAN)

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