NITDA Urges Stakeholders on Successful Implementation of Startup Act to Deepen Digital Economy

Emma Okonji

Following the passage of Nigeria’s Startup Bill into Law, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has tasked stakeholders on the successful implementation strategies of the Startup Act and its implication to Nigeria’s digital economy.

At a stakeholders meeting in Lagos, the Director, Standards, Guidelines and Framework at NITDA, Mr. Oladejo Olawumi, said the successful implementation of the Startup Act, became necessary, owing to the importance of technology innovation developed by startups that is currently driving digital transformation in Nigeria.

He therefore urged industry stakeholders present at the forum to come up with strategies that will enhance the successful implementation of the Startup Act 2022.

Manager, Standards, Guidelines and Framework at NITDA, Zainab Inuwa Gani, who read out the Startup Act to stakeholders, highlighted key areas of the Act, such as the objectives of the Act, the establishment of the national council for digital innovation and entrepreneurship, operational structure of the council, the opportunities the Act offers to labelled startups, the incentives for labelled startups, and registration of intellectual property, among others. Stakeholders, in their submissions, commended NITDA for its transparency, and unanimously agreed that the Startup Act would further give direction to startups, regulators, and industry stakeholders, while further deepening Nigeria’s digital economy.

One of the stakeholders, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Programos Software, Mr. Emmanuel Amos, said before the passage of the bill into an Act, startups were operating without guidelines and direction, adding that the Startup Act will further drive digital development and also open opportunities for investors to invest in the Nigerian startup ecosystem. Amos called for the establishment of a national registry to enhance the successful implementation of the Startup Act.

The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Mr. Adesegun Adekunle, stressed the need for the involvement of Information Technology (IT) professionals in the implementation process of the Startup Act.

Other stakeholders were of the view that the Startup Act should clearly state what it takes to become a labelled startup and how labelled startups could access the opportunities offered by the Act. They were of the view that NITDA should develop an implementation framework to further drive the Act, as well as organise an implementation workshop to sensitise stakeholders, including startups about the importance of the Startup Act. Others talked about the need to involve educational institutions in the implementation process.   

The session was moderated by NITDA Consultant, Mr. Kem Inye Abonta.

According to the Startup Act, a National Council, for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship shall be established, and the Council shall consist of a Chairman who shall be the President of Nigeria, and a Vice Chairman, who shall be the Vice President of Nigeria. The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy shall preside over the Council in the absence of the President and the Vice President. The Council shall also include the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Minister of Trade and Investment; Minister of Science and Technology; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria; Four representatives of the Startup Consultative Forum;  A member of Nigeria Computer Society; A member of the Computer Professionals (Registration Council) of Nigeria (CPN) and the Director General of NITDA, who shall serve as the Secretary of the Council. The stakeholders however called for expansion of the council members to include more of the private sector players.        

The Council members are expected to provide general policy guidelines for the realisation of the objectives of the Act, which include the provision of a legal and institutional framework for the development of startups in Nigeria; the provision of enabling environment for the establishment, development and operation of startups in Nigeria; enabling the development and growth of technology-related talents and positioning Nigeria’s startup ecosystem as the leading digital technology centre in Africa.      

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