Nigeria’s groundbreaking approach to fostering its startup ecosystem through the development of the Nigeria Startup Act (NSA) was celebrated by global technology stakeholders during the Deep Tech Roundtable at ‘The Assembly,’ a strategic session of The Next Web (TNW) Conference. The event, held from June 15th to 16th, 2023, at the Taets Art and Event Park in Amsterdam, brought together industry leaders and experts from around the world.
Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the Director General/CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), attended the conference as a Special Guest and actively participated in various roundtable sessions, including ‘The Assembly’ and the Startup Genome Ecosystem Leadership Forum. Represented by Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi, the Director of Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions, Inuwa highlighted Nigeria’s initiatives aimed at nurturing the growth and development of the country’s startup ecosystem.
Inuwa emphasized that the Nigeria Startup Act, co-created by ecosystem stakeholders, exemplifies Nigeria’s approach to Developmental Regulation, one of the pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS). The NSA, a joint initiative between Nigeria’s tech ecosystem and the Presidency, driven by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, aims to harness the potential of Nigeria’s digital economy through collaboratively crafted regulations. The Act’s objectives include creating an enabling environment for startup establishment, development, and operation in Nigeria, establishing a legal and institutional framework for startups, fostering the growth of technology-related talent, and positioning Nigeria as the leading digital technology hub in Africa.
The Act comprises ten parts that cover five key drivers: collaboration, engagement, incentives, linkages, and support. Notably, it introduces the establishment of the National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, presided over by the President as Chairman. The Council includes representatives from the Federal Executive arm of Government, the Director General of NITDA as Secretary, the Nigeria Computer Society, the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria, and the Startup Consultative Forum. This Council will monitor and evaluate regulatory frameworks, formulate policy guidelines, oversee the harmonization of laws and regulations, and drive the development of startups in Nigeria. NITDA will serve as the Secretariat of the Council, with the Director General assuming dual roles as the Secretary of the Council and the Head of the Secretariat.
Inuwa highlighted the introduction of a Startup Support and Engagement Portal, which will serve as a centralized platform for startups to register with all relevant regulatory agencies, streamlining the process and reducing associated costs. This aligns with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council’s (PEBEC) objective of improving the ease of doing business within the tech ecosystem.
The Director General also emphasized the establishment of a Startup Investment Seed Fund, managed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), targeting early-stage startups, hubs, and other entities supporting the startup ecosystem. The fund will be annually funded with a minimum of Ten Billion Naira (N10,000,000,000.00), dedicated to financing labeled startups through seed funds, grants, or loans.
The visionary provisions outlined in the Act have ignited hope for a promising future for startups in Nigeria. Stakeholders attending the conference commended Nigeria’s innovative and co-created regulatory approach, considering it an exemplary model for other countries to emulate. Matt Smith, the Director of Policy and Research at the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), praised Nigeria’s unprecedented developments in the startup ecosystem, acknowledging that governments often face challenges in implementing reforms and policies due to limited coordination and conflicting initiatives. Smith stated that Nigeria’s approach minimizes such pitfalls and sets a promising path for the country’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, inspiring similar startup acts worldwide.
The international acclaim and recognition received by Nigeria’s innovative Startup Act at the TNW Conference have positioned the country as a global leader in fostering a supportive and dynamic startup ecosystem. With its comprehensive legislation and collaborative initiatives, Nigeria is poised to nurture a thriving and internationally competitive digital economy.