As part of a drive to strengthen its contribution to the Nigerian economy, the Lekki Free Zone Development Company (LFZ) is in talks with Gluwa, a blockchain technology company. The pair are looking to partner and use blockchain to foster trade collaboration, growth, and sustainability among new and existing Free Zone enterprises. The partnership would also explore the creation of a Virtual Free Zone within the Lekki Free Zone.
Lekki Free Zone’s Head of Strategy, Innovation & Special Projects, Mr. Tomiwa Idowu, has disclosed that discussions are ongoing between LZF, the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority, and the Gluwa team.
In a statement, Idowu explained that the partnership, when finalized, will create a dashboard for the tokenization of goods into NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and provide digital asset-backed loans for new and existing enterprises who are looking to fund operations and/or expand their businesses, similar to the integration of OpenSea and Compound.
Idowu shared his vision for innovating the trading and industrial sector in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, bringing it into the modern information age with the Lekki Free Zone at the epicenter.
“I am extremely excited by the enormous potential of such a partnership, which would further establish Lagos State as Africa’s leading sub-national in terms of innovation, economic development and revenue generation,” said Idowu.
He commended the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as a beacon of progress and hope for the nation in general, saying: “Our Governor has always been a firm believer in fast-paced development, which involves using technology to leapfrog bureaucracy and going straight to solving immediate problems.”
Chief Executive Officer at Gluwa, Tae Oh, noted that the firm is keen to partner with the Lekki Free Zone as it is the largest and most developed Free Zone in Nigeria with proximity to the deep-sea port as well as the Dangote refinery, saying: “Trading has been the bedrock of the Nigerian economy, with annual volumes running into billions of dollars.”
He added: “We believe the digitization of the sector can allow us to harness its full potential. For instance, a standard process to digitize goods manufactured or processed within the zone in tandem with a market system on web3 will allow manufacturers to trade globally via the blockchain.
“All trades will be registered and benefit from the incentives of the Lekki Free Zone, such as zero taxation and free circulation of goods. As soon as the goods get settled for export by the in-Zone Customs Processing Center, they will get shipped out straight from the Lekki Free Zone via the deep-sea port.
“This will reduce delays, eliminate human errors, exponentially drive up Nigeria’s non-oil exports and sustain a positive trade balance for the nation. While we are still working out the fine details and a specific framework with NEPZA, we believe it is the future of commerce and trade in Africa.”
Gluwa is an Open Finance platform, connecting capital from developed markets to emerging market lending opportunities using blockchain technology. By providing the decentralized infrastructure rails to raise and disburse capital anywhere in the world, investors can use the Gluwa Invest platform to partake in debt-financing deals with emerging market fintech lenders, earning up to 15% APY.