The Federal Executive Council has given approval for the Nigeria Startup Bill. The FEC has also directed two ministers to see to its transmission to the National Assembly for appropriate legislative works. Details of the Startup Bill were discussed at this week’s virtual FEC meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari. The Nigerian Startup Bill comes with the goal of creating an enabling environment for Nigerian startups to thrive. The three challenges that the bill is looking to address majorly are the lack of an enabling environment, unclear regulatory framework, and inadequate local content support.
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Pantami at the post-FEC briefing made known the announcement to State House Correspondents. The Minister explained that the approval of the bill is aimed at encouraging young entrepreneurs around the country that possess skills and are willing to do business in the telecommunications sector. The bill proposes measures that will ensure that issues that discourage young Nigerians are ultimately addressed. The bill discusses that there will be protection and incentives, like tax breaks and access to an exclusive list of public and private-led funding opportunities, for local entrepreneurs. There will also be incentives to attract local and foreign investors to the Nigerian startup community.
The bill has had the collaborative effort between the Presidency, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Export and Promotion Council, and wide government bodies. The initiative for the Nigerian Startup Bill was launched earlier in May by the Presidency. The launch was in collaboration with 30 tech leaders, which including Ventures Platform founder Kola Aina and Future Africa founder Iyin Aboyeji, key officials of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the Minister of Digital Economy Prof. Isa Pantami. Since the launch of the bill, it has garnered almost 300 volunteers, with private sector players participating across the various level.
At the briefing, Pantami stated that the approved bill has replaced the National Digital Innovation Entrepreneurship and Startup Policy. Pantami said that “By this, the Nigeria Startup Bill has replaced our National Digital Innovation Entrepreneurship and Startup Policy. This bill has 11 chapters and all of them have been crafted in order to provide the enabling environment for our startups to be very successful. Firstly, the bill will establish the National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” He further explained that “This council is going to be chaired by Mr. President himself and part of the council he will be supported also by the Vice President and I will also support both of them and many relevant ministers and government parastatals are part of the council”
Oswald Osaretin Guobadia, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Digital Transformation and the NSB Lead also had something to say on the new development. Guobadia stated that “The NSB is one among a series of key activities the Presidency is using to drive the building of a more sustainable ecosystem for young people in Nigeria to thrive and scale.” Kola Aina said that “The bill is being proposed to provide an enabling environment for the growth of startups and guard against different challenges faced by startups such as seemingly disruptive regulations, lack of regulatory certainty, and weak infrastructures like broadband, open data, and digital platforms that limit the optimization of the many benefits of the digital economy.”
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, further revealed that “The bill also addresses startup leveling process, where a startup is going to be labeled. And after that, there is eligibility for the grant. If a startup is looking for a government grant, there is a process to follow, which is very easy, and in the end, the government will be able to provide the grant and also there is a process of issuance, this certificate of leveling for the startup. He added that “The bill also will establish the startup investment Seed Fund, where there is going to be a dedicated fund to be provided by the federal government for our young innovators all over the country to apply for the startup investment Seed Fund in order to begin their own process if they need that.”