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Nigeria’s cabinet approves startup bill, to boost capital raising, growth

Nigeria’s federal cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill that seeks to ease regulatory hurdles, offer tax incentives and make it easier for startups to raise capital, paving the way for its transmission to the National Assembly for debate and ratification, according to Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.

Pantami, who spoke at the end of the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday said that the bill was crafted to provide an enabling environment for business startups to thrive. 

He said the bill would embolden young entrepreneurs to possess relevant skills and encourage them to transact business in the telecommunications sector. 

“The first one is on the Nigeria startup bill, which is exciting news to our innovators all over the country, particularly those who are working within the tech industry,” he said.

“The federal executive council has approved the Nigeria startup bill and has also directed my humble self, the minister of communications and digital economy, and also the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, to ensure that we immediately liaise and transmit same to the national assembly to begin the legislative process of converting it into law. 

“By this, the Nigeria startup bill has replaced our national digital innovation entrepreneurship and startup policy.

“Firstly, the bill will establish the national council for digital innovation and entrepreneurship. 

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“This council is going to be chaired by Mr. President himself and part of the council he will be supported also by the Vice President and I will also support both of them and many relevant ministers and government parastatals are part of the council. 

“Furthermore, there is also the operational structure of the council in which all the relevant institutions have a role to play in providing the enabling environment for our startups to thrive, part and parcel of this operational structure,” Pantami said.

Africa’s biggest economy has the most startups on the continent – more than 1,200 -, according to Briter Bridges Intelligence, a London-based firm that tracks investments into Africa.

The companies cite government regulation, weak infrastructure and difficulties accessing capital as major obstacles to success in Nigeria.

The Nigeria Startup Bill, which has been in the works since earlier this year, would create a government fund to support startups and tax holidays of up to four years, among other incentives for investors, Pantami.

The bill, which will now head to parliament, is a result of collaboration between the presidency and the private sector, Adaeze Sokan, country director at UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, said.

“This could serve as a model for policy making in Nigeria,” said Sokan, who took part in crafting the bill.

Africa-focused payments startups Flutterwave and Paystack are some of the companies that were founded in Nigeria and have grown to offer services beyond the country’s borders.

Fundraising by African startups stands at $4.8 billion this year, according to data from Briter Bridges Intelligence.

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