President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the Nigeria Startup Bill to open a new progressive chapter for Nigeria’s tech and innovation community.
The new law mandates government to set up a N10 billion Investment Fund for young innovators and also make provision for incentives and tax holidays to encourage local innovators.
It is a new deal that will further strengthen Nigeria’s startup community, touted as Africa’s largest ecosystem, with legal and funding instruments.
According to reports, African startups raised over $4 billion in 2021 with Nigeria accounting for over 35 per cent of that amount. Nigeria is home to five of seven unicorns on the continent and is poised to increased the tally to nine.
“Our commitment to creating an enabling environment for Nigerian technology startups should never be in doubt. Today I signed into Law the Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB), developed by our administration to provide stable legal framework and incentives for technology innovation.” President Muhammadu Buhari announced in his official Twitter handle @MBuhari.
Similarly, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, tweeted @ProfIsaPantami: “His excellency, Muhammdau Buhari has just assented to Nigeria Startup Bill. It has now become Nigeria Startup Act, 2022. It was an Executive Bill, initiated by both [the] Office of the Chief of Staff, and the Office of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy. Congratulations to all.”
Also, while briefing State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the minister said in recognition of the efforts of the Nigeria government in ICT, Microsoft has agreed to train five million Nigerians on high demands skills geared towards job creation.
According to him, ICT contributed 18.42 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP this year alone, while the entire contribution of Communication and Digital Economy was 40 per cent.
Provision of the new law mandates the Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship which comprises the President, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), representatives of the Startup Consultative Forum, the Director General of Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and other key government and private functionaries, to oversee its execution.
The Council is tasked with overseeing policy guidelines and achievement of the law’s objectives including to foster collaboration between startups and policymakers, provide a portfolio of funding for startups and to ensure that laws and regulations concerning the startup ecosystem are sufficiently clear in a way that will encourage innovation and offshore investments. This is expressed on the website of the law (https://startupbill.ng/).
The Nigeria Startup Bill project is a joint initiative by Nigeria’s tech startup ecosystem and the Presidency to harness the potential of the digital economy through co-created regulations.
According to its promoters, this is to “ensure that Nigeria’s laws and regulations are 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.”
In its passage into law, the Nigeria Startup Act went through various readings at the House of Representatives and the Senate after it was first submitted to the presidency and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) last October.