The Nigeria Startup Bill reaches the Senate | What’s there to know?

Omoleye Omoruyi

On Tuesday, March 1, 2022, Nigerians stood to see which of the 68 bills will be passed. The Senate passed a total of 49 bills during voting on the Constitution Bills, and conversations have hardly started on the 19 bills that were trashed, because there is general apathy towards such matters.

No be today dem dey ignore bill wey benefit Nigerians.

Concerned Nigerian

The bills were contained in the report of the Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, while setting the tone for voting on the bills, explained that only bills which enjoyed passage in both chambers would be transmitted to the State Houses of Assembly for concurrence.   

According to him, any bill which fails to pass in the Senate or House of Representatives during voting automatically stands rejected by the National Assembly. 

Meanwhile, the Senate has received the Nigeria Startup Bill transmitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The bill was accompanied by a letter dated February 21, 2022, and read during the plenary by the Senate President.

President Buhari, in the letter, explained that the Startup Bill seeks to position the country’s Startup Ecosystem and establish a National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The letter reads in part, “Pursuant to Sections 58(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), I hereby forward The Nigeria Startup Bill, 2021, for the kind consideration of the Senate.

“The Nigeria Startup Bill, 2021 aims to position Nigeria’s Startup ecosystem, as the leading digital technology centre in Africa, having excellent innovators with cutting edge skills and exportable capacity, in order to do this, the Bill seeks to establish a National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“While hoping that this submission will receive the usual expeditious consideration of the Senate, please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my best regards.”

The koko?

The tech guys are the ‘big boys’ these days, providing solutions and making life easier, and President Buhari wants to chill with them, following years of fraught relations with the sector.

In his New Year’s speech to the nation he stated, “In year 2022 and going forward, our administration would intentionally leverage ICT platforms to create jobs while ensuring that the diversification of our economy creates more support to other emerging sectors.

“I am proud to announce that several foreign investors are taking advantage of our ranking as one of the leading startup ecosystems in Africa to invest in our digital economy.”

This romance – the fruit of a year-long collaboration between the government and startup investors, and law firms, entrepreneurs, policy advocacy groups – will set in stone a new relationship between Nigeria’s regulators and startups.

We don chop breakfast tire. Our time don reach.

Anonymous tech founder

Go deeper

We will partner with the legislature to develop an enabling environment to turn their passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled.

President Muhammadu Buhari

The Nigeria Startup Bill – a joint initiative by Nigeria’s tech startup ecosystem and the Presidency – will eliminate unspoken hostilities towards the tech ecosystem. It means that the country’s laws and regulations will become friendly, clear, planned and work for the tech ecosystem.

The objective of this Act is to provide a legal and institutional framework for the development of startups in Nigeria and to:

  • Provide an enabling environment for the establishment, development, and operation of startups in Nigeria; 
  • Position Nigeria’s startup ecosystem, as the leading digital technology hub in Africa, having excellent innovators with cutting edge skills and exportable capacity.
  • Foster the development and growth of technology-related talent;

The Nigeria Startup Bill will cater to the following; 

  • The Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship – a corporate body, known as the National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It includes the President, Vice President, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Representatives from the Startup Consultative Forum, others.
  • The Startup Support and Engagement Portal – a portal authorised by the Council to allow startups register with appropriate Ministries, Departments, and Agencies. And, the Startup Consultative Forum, a consultative body on the Startup Portal to provide a platform for information sharing and collaboration in the Nigerian startup ecosystem.
  • Training, Capacity Building & Development – the Bill makes provisions for training and developing talents within the ecosystem.
  • Startup Labelling -designed for labelled startups which fulfill the following eligibility requirements: It is registered as a limited liability company; its objects are innovation, development, production, improvement, and commercialisation of a digital technology, etc.
  • Startup Investment Seed Fund – to be managed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority to provide a labelled startup with finance; provide early-stage finance for recommended labelled startup; and provide relief to technology laboratories, accelerators, incubators and hubs.
  • Tax & Fiscal Incentives – targeting Labelled Startups, Investors investing in labelled startups, Employees of labelled startups External service providers of labelled startups.
  • Regulations Support – Protection of Intellectual Property Rights through collaboration with the Nigerian Copyright Commission and the Trademarks, Patent, and Design Registries, ensure that fintech startups are aware of new rules and regulations that affect them before they are issued, etc.
  • Accelerators and Incubators.
  • Clusters, Hubs, Innovation Parks, and Technology Development Zones – Establishment and operation of startup innovation clusters, hubs, physical and virtual innovation parks in each state of the Federation.

In October 2021, young Nigerians across Nigeria showed support for the bill. The rallies aimed to enlighten stakeholders in the tech ecosystem on the bill’s provisions and spread awareness to the grassroots.

Nigeria Startup Bill

The bill is now before the Senate. Should we pray, be hopeful that it will be passed and implementation will be a reality? Maybe we should trust this one.

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