Nigeria’s Innovative approach in the development of the Startup Act has been celebrated by the global technology ecosystem stakeholders during the Deep Tech Roundtable, held as part of ‘The Assembly’, one of the strategic sessions of TNW.
This year’s The Next Web (TNW) Conference was held from 15th to 16th June, 2023, at the Taets Art and Event Park, Amsterdam.
Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, the Director General/CEO, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), was in attendance as a Special Guest and participated in several roundtable sessions including ‘The Assembly’ and the Startup Genome Ecosystem Leadership Forum.
The DG who was represented by Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi, Director, Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions, highlighted some of Nigeria’s initiatives focused on fostering the growth and development of the country’s startup ecosystem.
Inuwa informed that one key legislation co-created by ecosystem stakeholders, the Nigeria Startup Act (NSA), is an example of the country’s approach to Developmental Regulation, one of the pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS). That the NSA project, a joint initiative by Nigeria’s tech ecosystem and the Presidency driven by Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, was aimed at harnessing the potentials of Nigeria’s digital economy through co-created regulations. That the objectives of the Act include, among others, to provide an enabling environment for the establishment, development and operation of startups in Nigeria; to provide a legal and institutional framework for the development of startups in Nigeria; to provide for the development and growth of technology-related talents; and to position Nigeria’s startup ecosystem as the leading digital technology centre in Africa, having excellent innovators with cutting edge skills and exportable capacity.
The DG further informed that the Act is made up of ten (10) parts which cuts across five (5) drivers, namely collaboration, engagement, incentives, linkages and support. That the Act intends to increase collaboration within Government and its interactions with ecosystem practitioners by the establishment of the National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship. That the Council will be presided over by the President as Chairman alongside representatives of the Federal Executive arm of Government, the Director General of NITDA as Secretary and representatives of the Nigeria Computer Society, the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria and the Startup Consultative Forum. That the Council is to monitor and evaluate regulatory frameworks; formulate and implement policy guidelines, oversee the harmonisation of laws, and regulations for the development of startups in Nigeria. That NITDA is to serve as the Secretariat of the Council with the DG to serve in a dual capacity of both the Secretary of the Council and the Head of the Secretariat.
Additionally, Inuwa highlighted the establishment of a Startup Support and Engagement Portal which is to serve as a ‘One-Stop-Shop’ for startups to register with all relevant regulatory Agencies of Government. This is aimed at saving time as well as associated costs when engaging the Agencies on individual basis. It will also facilitate the improvement of the ease of doing business within the tech ecosystem, in line with the provisions of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).
The NITDA Boss also highlighted the establishment of a Startup Investment Seed Fund, to be managed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). The fund will target early-stage startups, hubs and other entities that support the startup ecosystem. That the fund is to be funded annually with a minimum of N10,000,000,000.00 (Ten Billion Naira) towards financing labelled startups and others as seed funds, grants or loans.
He also indicated that these and many other provisions of the Act present a promising future for startups in Nigeria. That Nigeria’s hope is for the Act to serve as a veritable tool towards fostering the development and sustenance of an enabling Startup ecosystem in the country. He therefore called on stakeholders to support the Secretariat in realizing the potentials of the Act.
Stakeholders in attendance hailed Nigeria’s approach and opined that it is an excellent example of co-created regulation for others to emulate. Matt Smith, Director, Policy and Research, the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), in his remarks, revealed that he has been following with keen interest the unprecedented developments in Nigeria’s Startup ecosystem. That often, governments seeking to empower entrepreneurs tend find themselves developing and implementing a complex range of reforms, policies and programmes that cut across ministerial and departmental portfolios. That without central coordination, it is easy for such reforms to stall due to limited legislative capacity, disagreements between responsible departments, or end up with duplicate or competing initiatives between departments. That Nigeria’s innovative approach in the crafting of the Startup Act will no doubt minimize such pitfalls, offers a promising future for the country’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and is already inspiring similar startup acts around the world. He therefore said that Nigeria deserves commendation for this innovative approach.