Zanzibar – Africa’s newest tech hub?

Daniel Yu, founder and CEO of Wasoko – a B2B e-commerce platform that connects informal retailers to manufacturers of consumer goods – recently announced that he and the bulk of the company’s tech team has relocated to Zanzibar. Wasoko is a founding partner of an initiative called Silicon Zanzibar, which aims to promote the semi-autonomous group of islands, off the coast of Tanzania, as a destination for tech companies and their workers.

The Zanzibar Ministry of Investment and Economic Development wants to position the main island, which is best known for agricultural activities and tourism, as a tech hub by offering work visas for relocating tech workers and exemption from corporate tax for 10 years.

“Yesterday was a historic day for Africa tech. The government of Zanzibar announced a groundbreaking initiative to attract and relocate tech companies from across Africa to the island, declaring a variety of incentives including work visas for all relocating workers alongside a collaborative regulatory environment to enable the best of African innovation,” Yu said following the official launch of the initiative on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, Wasoko closed a US$125 million Series B equity round, said to be the largest venture financing round ever raised for a non-fintech start-up in Africa. The company has operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.

The initiative’s website also promotes the availability of working space and accommodation at Fumba Town, a new modern ‘eco-town’ 9km from the international airport. “We expect to invest over $10 million into the island over the coming years as we scale up our new tech HQ in Fumba Town,” Yu added.

It is unclear which other tech companies have set up shop on the island, but Kenya’s Tushop – a social-commerce platform – and Ramani – which builds financial infrastructure for Africa’s supply chains – are listed as partners on the initiative’s website.