In June 2020, Afropolitan, an African community-as-a-service company, raised $2.1 million in pre-seed Balaji Srinivasan, an influential figure in the crypto space and ex-CTO of Coinbase, to start the process of building what he describes as the first ever internet country for Africans.

Launched in 2016 by Eche Emole and Chika Uwazie, Afropolitan creates a series of community opportunities for Africans and those in the diaspora through travel, events and media. With the aforementioned investment, the company is implementing its four-phase plan to build this Internet country.

To better understand what Afropolitan is building, we hosted Eche on #BDTalks where he shared the internet country’s manifesto. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

How did you come to Afropolitan?

Failure: It was a natural evolution! I have been bringing together Africans in the Diaspora through events in the United States for over 10 years now. Afropolitan as an organization started in 2016 when I was in law school.

In 2019, I left my role at Flutterwave and transitioned to focus on Afropolitan full time. Wherever we look and wherever we are, Africans everywhere are subjects, not citizens. Access to opportunities is rare. Security is not guaranteed. For the most part, life is simply about surviving, not thriving. We want to solve this real internet country.

How would you define Afropolitan?

Failure: Today we are building a network of the best that Africa has to offer in various sectors. Although we start today as a network, we want to build the first internet country.

The idea is summed up by Balaji Srinivasan, the former CTO of Coinbase, who came up with the idea of ​​a network state and this is what an internet country will look like. The Network State is a digital nation launched first as an online community before physically materializing on earth after reaching critical mass.

A network state is a highly aligned online community with a capacity for collective action which crowdfunds territory around the world and eventually obtains diplomatic recognition from pre-existing states.

At its full vision, it will take more than 10 years for an internet country to achieve diplomatic recognition in Africa, but to be honest, we need to get there faster due to the existential crises on our continent.

The internet is our greatest equalizer! Internet is the only thing that allowed us to cross our barriers as Africans, 15 years ago it was impossible for an Enugu developer to work remotely as a full time staff in a western company. As in the music industry, Afrobeats artists thrive on the internet.

Experience Afropolitan

Failure: Starting from the definition of the state of the network, we turned to the media by building a online community on Clubhouse with over 50,000 members, this highly aligned community is our minimum viable product (MVP).

In 2020 during the #EndSARS protest in Nigeria, we funded and fundraised through our online community, this reflected our capacity for collective action. As a community, we have also supported refugees during the Ethiopian war and participated in Black Lives Matter protests in the United States by marching and also offering solutions to police brutality in the states through our online community.

We are not there yet when it comes to crowdfunding territories but our MVP is the return year we organized in 2019, we helped over a million people in the diaspora through a series of events in Ghana – this has never been done – and it generated around $2 billion in economic activity .

Another thing is that so many people want to leave the mainland but they don’t have passport privileges. Through diplomatic recognition of pre-existing states, Afropolitan intends to unlock these opportunities at scale for its citizens by providing them with greater access compared to their home countries. For the moment, the Afropolitan passport which will go on sale in December 2022 cannot allow holders to access nations but Afropolitan events.

The Afropolitan Passport is membership-based for now, but will guarantee citizenship in the future. — Eche Emole

Phase four of the Afropolitan Manifesto

Failure: Afropolitan will leverage its network, capital, and legitimacy built up over its last three phases—network, super app, and minimum viable state—to acquire land in negotiation with partner governments.

The land will look like a “Chinatown/Afropolitan Town” where our members can establish a physical presence and create economic opportunities. At this point, the Network State will serve as the “digital capital” that governs our physical Districts. Eventually, we will build a larger network of charter cities like Singapore and Hong Kong.

Afropolitan offers a solution to the problems created by African governments, and we also want to serve as a model for the rest of the world.

We are not building an elitist nation no matter where you were born or what school you went to. Afropolitan is open to everyone! Instead of a social club, see us as a network of people from different social classes.

Through our network today, we have enabled founders to secure funding and have also created job opportunities for members of our community.

Afropolitan and its issues

Failure: The idea itself is bold and spooky! One of the biggest challenges is the mindset, we need to reorient ourselves as Africans to have the ambition to achieve big dreams.

We also haven’t done much to simplify the message about what we’re building and that’s why we’re having this conversation.