Flutterwave and Chipper Cash, two of Africa’s most valuable tech companies, are part of a new group leading efforts to turn Zambia into a business haven for the continent’s startups, according to startup founders involved in the plans.
The Zambia Technology Sector Working Group is already in early talks with the country’s Ministry of Technology & Science to develop business-friendly legislation to support African tech companies looking to incorporate or operate from the country.
The group is the brainchild of Perseus Mlambo, co-founder of Zambian fintech company Union54, and Mwiya Musokotwane, CEO of Thebe Investment Management, which is building a $1.5 billion-plus town in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.
The idea originated after the 2020 virtual African Renaissance Conference, which featured just under 1,500 African and global tech industry participants. Over the last few months, the plan has gained traction, with more than 40 African startup founders and organizations, including Kuda Bank, RiseVest, Ethereum Foundation, BongoHive, and Lagos-based Co-Creation Hub, as working group members.
With the support of various government departments, the group is working to tackle many common issues around business licenses, immigration policy, support for local talent, internet infrastructure, taxes, and stock listing opportunities. The document also discloses plans for cryptocurrency-friendly regulations, including a framework for adopting crypto services.
This push to make Zambia a business hub on the continent follows a flurry of regulatory activities across the continent over the last two years to rein in tech enterprises. African governments are introducing new taxes on digital businesses and mobile money while some financial services regulators have clamped down on cryptocurrency companies and fintechs dabbling in international payments without a licence.
The group working on the Zambia efforts hopes to make the country a test bed for new technologies. Other companies are looking to the southern African country as an administrative base on the continent with favorable visa policies to attract pan-African talent.