Dr. Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy mentioned while briefing State House media that the Nigeria Startup Bill has been passed by the Nigerian Federal Executive Council (FEC) and will be referred to the National Assembly for consideration.
This was stated at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s virtual council meeting at the Presidential Villa’s Council Chamber in Abuja.
“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 with and transmit them to the National Assembly to begin their legislative process of converting it into a law,” Pantami said.
The 11-chapter law, according to Dr. Pantami, replaces the National Investment and Startup Policy.
With this development, he said, his Ministry will work closely with the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to communicate with the National Assembly so that the bill may be converted into law.
The Minister, who stated that if passed into law, the new bill will create an enabling environment for Nigerian startups, also stated that the bill includes provisions that allow for easy access to grants, such as a Startup Investment Safe Fund for young innovators who can apply for government sponsorship of their ideas.
Pantami also revealed that national centers will be established across the country where inventors will be able to incubate their ideas with full intellectual property protection.
The law, according to the minister, would create the National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will be in charge of coordinating with various regulatory organizations to ensure that Startups receive assistance and incentives.
“And by this, the Nigeria Startup Bill has replaced our National Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startup Policy. This bill has 11 chapters and all of them have been crafted in order to provide the enabling environment for our startups to be very successful. Firstly, the bill will establish the National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“This council is going to be chaired by his Excellency, 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 who are part of the council.
“Furthermore, there is also the operational structure of the council in which all the relevant institutions that have a role to play in providing the enabling environment for our startups to thrive are part and parcel of this operational structure.
“Furthermore, this addresses the startup labeling process where a startup is going to be labeled. And after that, there is eligibility for a grant. If a startup is looking for a government grant, there is a process to follow, which is very easy and in the end, the government will be able to provide the grant.
“And also, there is a process of issuing the certificate of labeling for the startup.
“In addition to that, the bill also will establish Startup Investment Safe Fund, where there is going to be a dedicated fund to be provided by the federal government for our young innovators all over the country to apply for the startup investment…safe fund in order to begin their own company if they need that.
“In addition, there are also tax and fiscal incentives where the government will provide tax holidays, where the government will support our startups to even liaise with international or multi-tech giants globally. So the government will provide tax holidays and other incentives where necessary.
“Also, there is a chapter dedicated to regulators where they have been mandated to come up with initiatives of promoting developmental regulation because today many investors and young innovators consider regulators to be doing nothing but restricting the development of their startups.
“But this bill comes up with an initiative to provide what is called developmental regulation, where regulators must make the regulation very flexible to support our innovators all over the country.
“And also in the bill, there is a plan to establish national parks all over the country, national hubs, where innovators will go and incubate their ideas.
“There is also a provision for data protection where your data is going to be protected. And also, there is a provision for intellectual property rights. So, any intellectual property you have will be protected by the government.
“So, there are many provisions where even if a startup founder doesn’t have one kobo, the government will support him through seed fund.
“Government will provide an avenue or an environment for him to come and work on his startup. And also, the government is willing to support him when he gets any international partnership.
“This startup bill is an outcome of a very long process between the office of the Chief Of Staff, Mr. President, and the federal ministry of communications and digital economy, where we engaged stakeholders in each and every zone of the Federation.
“We brought together young innovators. We listened to their complaints to the government and we articulated their complaints in this bill. So this bill has adopted what is called the organic approach to legislation, where we begin with a bottom-up approach.
“So the idea started from the grassroots up to the level of the federal executive council, in which all the observations of our young innovators have been accommodated in this startup and they are the owners of it. So this is the summary, the first memo has been approved by the federal executive council.