Ekiti Knowledge Zone to catalyse digital entrepreneurship in Nigeria

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has committed US$80mn in loan financing to support the development of the Ekiti Knowledge Zone (EKZ) in Nigeria

EKZ, located in the heart of Ekiti State, is being delivered as a place to catalyse digital entrepreneurship, generate 26,000 jobs and inject US$14mn annually into the economy. It will include world-class infrastructure around roads, electricity, water supply and wastewater treatment facilities alongside a 20 ha green technology park. It seeks to attract businesses such as start-ups, process outsourcing firms, fabrication and production companies and encourage anchor investors from the private sector to form a special-purpose vehicle that allows multiple investors to pool financing and manage operations of the zone. 

There will also be a particular focus on people, especially the youth. This promise includes plans to provide ICT technology training for more than 19,000 young minds in Ekiti and neighbouring states and an incubator programme will support promising start-ups through pre-seed and seed funding provided by the Ekiti Innovation Fund. 

Former Governor of Ekiti State and former chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, commented, “It is exciting to see that our efforts, which began a few years ago during my tenure to establish Ekiti as the knowledge economy of Nigeria and the preferred destination for innovation, technology, artificial Intelligence, science and digital initiatives, are starting to bear fruit.”

In April 2023, the Government of Nigeria conferred ‘free zone’ status to the project under the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority Act. This was done to unlock a number of incentives for private investors, including rent-free land, tax holidays and import/export duty waivers in a bid to encourage investment and innovation. 

Ekiti State Govenor, Biodun Oyebanji, has reaffirmed his faith in the project to drive collaboration and innovation for the betterment of the state. He exclaimed, “It’s a beacon of hope for the youth, a testament to our commitment to fostering innovation, job creation and sustainable economic growth; it is a commitment to a better future for our State and Nigeria.”

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