Startups, the tech industry and generally the digital space in Nigeria continue to prove to be an important aspect of Nigeria’s economy. Compared to a decade ago, these startups have grown from almost nothing to the remarkable milestone they have achieved today. One thing, however, remains a topic for debate regarding these startups. The role of the government’s support for the industry has always raised eyebrows; over the years, there have always been concerns raised about how the government could help push the industry to greater heights by providing support, an enabling environment, favourable regulatory policies and working hand-in-hand with the industry.
Truth be told, Nigeria’s government has not been folding hands about the tech industry and its digital economy. In fact, there are many government bodies, agencies and offices working on various legislations and policies to help bring the industry into the brightest spotlight, but the biggest challenge, over the years, has always been that there is not a single law or at least a bill that integrates all of these efforts into one until The Nigerian Startup Bill came around…
What is The Nigeria Startup Bill?
The Nigeria Startup Bill is an answer to the call for harmonization of efforts from various government parastatals towards providing an enabling environment for startups and the tech industry in Nigeria. The goal of the Nigeria Startup Bill (NBS) is to ensure that every government agency is following the vision the government has for the Nigerian tech startup ecosystem, and to ensure that each body or agency isn’t working blindly and/or independently. The bill also seeks to continually revamp old laws relating to the startup space already existing.
According to The Nigeria Startup Bill website, The Nigeria Startup Bill project is a joint initiative by Nigeria’s tech startup ecosystem and the Presidency to harness the potential of our digital economy through co-created regulations. The Bill will ensure that Nigeria’s laws and regulations are friendly, clear, planned and work for the tech ecosystem. This, we believe, will contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for growth, attraction and protection of investment in tech startups.
Driven by the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy under the leadership of Isa Pantami, The Nigeria Startup Bill aims to get input from both government and stakeholders from the tech ecosystem as well as carry these startups along every step of the way.
The Presidency is fully into The Nigeria Startup Bill and will provide all the necessary support needed. In a document issued by the Presidency, President Muhammadu Buhari said that “Our young people are our most valuable natural resource, at home and abroad. Their ingenuity, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit is evident to all. We will partner with the legislature to develop an enabling environment to turn their passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled”.
The Nigeria Startup Bill and related efforts have been on for quite some time now. The first draft aimed at harmonizing existing laws/regulations and feeding inputs to the legal framework from key ecosystem leaders such as MDAs, States, Networks, etc., was completed in June 2021. The final draft was submitted in September this year and the bill was submitted in October to the President who then passes the executive bill to the National Assembly.
An event to discuss with relevant agencies about the tech startup ecosystem was held months ago. The President’s Chief of Staff, as well as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, were present at the meeting. According to Minister Isa Pantami, the Nigeria Startup Bill will eradicate the existing gap between startups and the government, ensuring that the interests of these startups are protected at all costs and at all times. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Digital Transformation and the NSB Lead, Oswald Osaretin Guobadia, said 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 to scale”.
Founder and General Partner of Ventures Platform Fund, Kola Aina, noted that The Nigeria Startup Bill will give startups an enabling environment, mitigate the already existing challenges faced by startups as well as avert new ones, provide regulatory backups, optimize the digital economy, etc.
Benefits of The Nigeria Startup Bill
- The Bill will provide an opportunity for government and private companies to put heads together
One of the major goals and benefits of the Nigeria Startup Bill is that it’ll provide a common ground for startups and the government to see and discuss startups, the effects they have on the Nigerian economy and how they could both work together to direct gains to the overall economy.
- The Nigeria Startup Bill seeks to harmonize all the efforts of the different bodies to create a thriving tech startup ecosystem
Another benefit of the Nigeria Startup Bill is to ensure that efforts by different government bodies are not duplicated or wasted. It will help these legislative bodies and agencies to stay aligned with the overall goal designed to help the tech startup ecosystem thrive. This way, the functions and duties of these bodies are divided and a more efficient system is birthed. These bodies will also be able to combine all their actions into one collective effort efficiently and systematically.
- The Nigeria Startup Bill could be an instrument to revamp the existing laws and take out unnecessary ones
The Nigeria Startup Bill will help to eradicate unnecessary laws that do not support the progress of the tech startup ecosystem. By design, the Bill seeks to revisit old laws and ensure that they are still relevant and in line with set out goals.
- The Nigeria Startup Bill will protect the interest of startups
The Nigeria Startup Bill is centred around startups. All the actions, goals, and plans of the Nigeria Startup Bill places startups at the epicentre at all times.
How The Nigeria Startup Bill Could Send Nigeria’s Digital Economy Flying Through The Roof
The Nigerian tech startup ecosystem has shown a lot of potentials. Experts have even asserted that all that has been done by them is just the starting point and that with time, they could become a huge part of Nigeria’s revenue source. There are many challenges that impede these startups from attaining the zenith of their success and this is where the Nigeria Startup Bill comes in. The Nigeria Startup Bill will provide these startups with the enabling environment they need, while also ensuring that policies and regulations favour them. It will also pave the way for these startups to grow to their full potentials and ensure that they get to the highest point they can. These startups, in turn, will provide job opportunities and open up the economy to foreign investors which will, in turn, be beneficial to the Nigerian economy.