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A Charter City in Nigeria?


The Financial Times profiles the proposed city of Itana, north of Lagos, in “How to Create a City.” Itana will be “governed by its own rules, in its case in five areas: company registration, immigration, tax, the legal system and offshore banking.” The article explores “charter cities,” the brainchild of Senior Fellow Paul Romer:

Charter cities, say proponents, are entirely voluntary. If you want to live in one, you can opt in. If not, no one can force you to move there. “Free choice is essential for the legitimacy of the rules in a charter city,” says Romer....

Romer’s idea of a charter city is not private sector-led. He says most of the entrepreneur-led projects are not charter cities at all. Instead, he imagines a state setting up a jurisdiction and outsourcing provision of government services—such as courts, the police or tax collection—to another country, as Mauritius has done with its court of appeal.

Instead of trading goods and services, governments would trade best practice. “The true promise in the idea is that it could be used, as it was in Hong Kong, to offer effective government services to people who would otherwise have no chance [of having them],” he says.

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