The Federal Government has formed a 27-member committee to implement the Nigeria Startup Act 2023 (NSA) in a bid to foster the growth of the digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country and consolidate the achievements made by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami inaugurated the committee on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari in a hybrid event in Abuja.
Pantami gave a historical overview of the journey so far from the conceptualisation of the bill to its enactment into law by the president on October 19, 2022. The Nigeria Startup Bill was first drafted and formulated in 2021 with inputs from relevant and critical stakeholders, including ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government, private sector actors, industry players, young innovators, and stakeholders from academia. Town hall meetings were organised in the six geopolitical zones of the country to collect inputs, constructive criticisms and recommendations to create a robust and credible document.
Pantami described the inauguration of the NSA implementation committee as a milestone achievement towards the attainment of a digital Nigeria and urged the committee members to coordinate operational plans and establish the baseline for the ecosystem in terms of digital innovation and entrepreneurship. The committee members are relevant stakeholders from the government, private sector, ecosystem, academia, legal institutions and more.
The minister noted that economies globally are driven by technology, knowledge, digital innovation, and entrepreneurship. He advocated for a knowledge-based economy rather than a resource-based economy in the country, giving examples of leading economies such as the United States of America, China, Japan, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom.
According to statistics as of December 2022, digital enterprises are directly and indirectly contributing a minimum of US$53 trillion to the global GDP, which means more than half of the global GDP depends on technology, digital innovation and digital entrepreneurship.
Pantami emphasised the need to invest in youths that have innovative ideas, noting that Nigeria is blessed with so many talents and innovators.
“Young Nigerians have been making the country proud by winning prizes at global ICT events in UAE, Barcelona, USA and Saudi Arabia. The NSA will consolidate the achievements made thus far by the ministry in terms of broadband penetration, 4G penetration, development of policies for digitalization, digital ID in Nigeria, government revenue generation, among others.
The NSA provides legal frameworks as well as technical and financial backing to further encourage startups in the country. The government will set aside a minimum of N10 billion annually in addition to other sources of funding that have been captured in the law to support them financially.
Also, Pantami announced the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi as the secretary of the committee and urged all the members to expend their time, energy, knowledge and experience to support the ecosystem to reduce importation in the country and prioritise production.
Abdullahi appreciated all members of the committee for agreeing to contribute their expertise to the national assignment of implementing the NSA. He stated that the committee is responsible for creating an enabling and sustainable environment for young and talented people to develop more profitable and innovative-driven enterprises for national development.
Abdullahi also noted that startups are critical drivers for economic growth, and implementing the NSA will be a game changer that will help create a legal and institutional framework to develop the Nigerian startup ecosystem.
“I wish to sincerely appreciate your acceptance to serve on this committee and I do not doubt that our collective expertise and experience will help us implement the NSA successfully,” Abdullahi assured.