The Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB) is a step closer to getting enacted into law as it has now been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The approval was made on December 15, and now, the Presidency will submit the bill to the National Assembly for consideration.
The NSB aims to create an enabling environment for Nigerian startups to thrive.The three major challenges that the bill is looking to tackle are the lack of an enabling environment, unclear regulatory framework, and inadequate local content support. The bill proposes measures to ensure that these issues are addressed. For example, 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.
Although Nigeria has the highest number of startups on the continent—about 750—and holds the total highest YoY raises, it ranks below countries like South Africa, Kenya, and Tunisia in terms of business friendliness. With bans on cryptocurrency trading, and clampdowns on online investment, trading, and even social media, Nigeria’s startup scene has been rocked by a few disruptive regulatory announcements in recent years.
The bill is the result of a collaborative effort between the Presidency, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Export and Promotion Council and wider government bodies. The initiative for the NSB was launched in May of this year by the Presidency, in collaboration with 30 tech leaders, including Ventures Platform founder Kola Aina and Future Africa founder Iyin Aboyeji, officials of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the Minister of Digital Economy Isa Pantami. Since then, it has garnered almost 300 volunteers, with private sector players participating, including legal firms like TLP Advisory and Aelex, policy advisors Advocacy for Policy and Innovation (API) and Innovation for Policy Foundation, and media organisations TechCabal and Wimbart. Google Nigeria and the UK overnment, through the West Africa Research and Innovation Hub and the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, are also backing the bill.
Speaking on recent developments, Oswald Osaretin Guobadia, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Digital Transformation and the NSB Lead said, “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, Founder and General Partner of Ventures Platform Fund, also added, “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 infrastructure like broadband, open data, and digital platforms that limit the optimisation of the many benefits of the digital economy.”