The event, organized by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) to push forward the conversation on the Nigeria Startup Bill (“NSB” or “the Bill”), was facilitated by Mr Bunmi Akinyemiju (CEO, Venture Garden Group). He welcomed guests to the NESG pre-conference roundtable meeting on the NSB.

He explained how privileged Nigeria has been to be at the forefront of innovation and the current wave of capital inflow in the country, thanks to fundraising exercises by startups. He further stated that the Bill seeks to consolidate all government policies in order to create a more encouraging space for startups.

The program has three objectives:

  1. To facilitate legal and regulatory alignment towards passing the Bill.
  2. To establish a platform for ongoing conversations, where policy and lawmakers, and potential beneficiaries can curate ideas to ensure successful implementation.
  3. To create awareness among relevant stakeholders about the Nigerian finrechtech industry.

After laying out the objectives of the event. Mr Nnanna Ude (Managing Partner, Agon Continental Ltd.), a member of the board of directors of the NESG, gave an opening remark stressing the importance of the NSB. A key point he made was with respect to regulatory uncertainty, and how the Bill will address that and bridge the gaps between the startups and the regulators.

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, gave a keynote speech where he commended the efforts of the NESG in bringing events about the digital economy to the forefront. He also commended the roundtable for giving all stakeholders a voice, stating that the NSB was also made in the same way. He went further to throw his support behind the Bill.

Goodwill messages were given by Mr Oswald Osaretin Guobodia (Senior Special Assistant to the President on Digital transformation), Adaeze Sokan (Country Director, Uk-Nigeria Tech Hub), Hon Abubakar Lado (Chairman, House Committee on ICT) and Solape Hammond (Special adviser on SDGs and investment, Lagos state). They all expressed their support for the Bill and wished attendees a good deliberation.

A presentation was made by Davidson Oturu (Partner, AELEX) on the key provisions of the proposed Startup Bill. He made note of a few provisions such as a National Council to make sure that the Bill is implemented. The Council will consist of individuals from both the private and the public sectors.

There will also be an engagement portal, which will be a platform that enables stakeholders in the Startup ecosystem to interface. He also highlighted provisions such as a fund for startups looking to scale, talent development schemes and free zones for startups.

Another presentation was made by Jon Stever (Co-founder & MD, I4Policy Foundation). He spoke about global best practices and perspectives, from other territories that have passed startup regulations. He gave a history of laws that have been made for small African businesses and startups. Senegal was given particular focus because it was a series of similar conversations, that led to the country’s Startup Bill, as well as a new Finance Act. He noted that as long as these conversations keep happening in Africa, there is going to be infinite progress in all economic spheres.

Breakout sessions followed immediately after which was anchored by Mr Emmanuel Adegboye (Managing Partner, Utopia). There were also facilitators for different sections;

  1. Tosin Faniro-Dada (MD/CEO, Endeavor Nigeria) led the group on incentives in the Startup Bill.
  2. Jude Farenmi (CEO, Republicraft Consulting), led conversations around enabling legislation for Startups.
  3. Yemi Keri (CEO, Heckerbella Ltd.) led discussions on governance for effective implementation of the Bill.

The group on incentives for the bill recommended creating incentives for commercial banks to provide loans to startups, and also incentivise public and private research institutions to carry out more research for Startups.

On the topic of enabling legislation, it was recommended that a startup should be well defined so that there is clarity on those that the Bill applies to. There should also be well-defined terms to facilitate the smooth implementation of the Bill

The discussion on governance brought pertinent questions such as how the Bill can be localized in different states. Also, there was a recommendation to carry out a proper audit on the Bill to ensure that it is not in conflict with any existing laws.

In closing, Mr Bunmi Akinyemiju pointed out that the NSB is very significant for Nigeria because the collaborative effort in bringing the Bill to life sets a course for the future, where other pieces of legislation can be created by all stakeholders affected by it. This could be game-changing for Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

The event ended on a note of hope for the Nigerian Startup space, and the entire Nigerian Economy.

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