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The Nigeria Startup Bill will harmonize existing government policies and protect startups

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Over the last few years (including the past few days), regulatory events and policy announcements have raised concerns about the government’s support for the tech industry. There are concerns about the government’s commitment to innovation and the young people who are building startups in Nigeria.

A key challenge is that there are so many agencies and government bodies working on various legislations and there’s not a single bill that harmonizes all of these. The Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB) aims to achieve this and will ensure that all government agencies and parastatals are aligned on the vision for the Nigerian tech startup ecosystem. The bill is also an opportunity to update existing but outdated laws.

The Nigeria Startup Bill project is a joint initiative by Nigeria’s tech ecosystem and the Presidency that is driven by the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy to harness the potential of our digital economy through co-created regulations. Using its big tent approach, the bill aims to get input from both government and tech ecosystem stakeholders.

One of the ways the Nigeria Startup Bill is securing the commitment of government agencies is by aligning them to the President’s vision. In his January 1st speech, the President said “we will partner with the legislature to develop an enabling environment to turn [young people’s] passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled.”

In addition to this, the initiative is also engaging all relevant government agencies. It recently held a 2-day consultation with these agencies to discuss the contents of the bill and to listen to their concerns. The event was attended by the Chief of Staff to the President and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami. The Honorable Minister in demonstrating support for the Nigerian Startup Bill said that the gap between startups and government will be bridged by the NSB.

As part of the NSB’s efforts to ensure that startups are protected and can continue to thrive, members of the tech startup community are being engaged in the drafting of its content. This approach will ensure that their interests are protected and that they are able to highlight all the elements that are important for their success.

According to Kola Aina, the founder and General Partner of Ventures Platform Fund, the bill is being proposed to provide an enabling environment for the growth of startups, 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 optimization of the many benefits of the digital economy”.

To highlight the Presidency’s support for the bill, Oswald Osaretin Guobadia, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Digital Transformation and the NSB Lead noted 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 and scale.”

Despite the mistrust that typically exists between the government and the private sector, the Nigeria Startup Bill provides an opportunity for these two groups to align on the collective national interest.


 

Culled from Medium as written by Olanrewaju Odunowo, Communications Co-ordinator for the Nigeria Startup Bill

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