The Federal Government has inaugurated a 27-member committee to implement the Nigeria Startup Act 2023 (NSA).
The inauguration is part of efforts at fostering the growth of the digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country and consolidating the achievements made by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) inaugurated the committee on behalf of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari in a hybrid event at the Digital Economy Complex, Mbora, Abuja.
Giving a historical overview of the journey so far from the conceptualization of the bill to its enactment into law by the President on 19th October 2022, the Minister stated that the Nigeria Startup Bill was first drafted and formulated in 2021 with inputs from relevant and critical stakeholders.
He stated that Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of government, private sectors, industry players, young innovators, and stakeholders from the academia were engaged in town hall meetings organised in the six geopolitical zones of the country with the purpose of collecting their inputs, constructive criticisms and recommendations to create a robust and credible document.
Describing the inauguration of the NSA implementation committee as a milestone achievement towards the attainment of a digital Nigeria, Pantami urged the committee members to coordinate operational plans and establish the baseline for the ecosystem in terms of digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
“In this implementation committee, we have brought together relevant stakeholders, some from government, some from the private sector, some from the ecosystem, some from the academia, some from legal institutions, and many more to come together and provide the leadership that is required for the technical implementation of this very important law,” he stated.
While noting that economies globally are driven by technology, knowledge, digital innovation, and entrepreneurship, Pantami stated that priority and preference should be given to a knowledge-based economy rather than a resource-based economy in the country.
He further stated that countries like the United States of America, China, Japan, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom which are the major contributors to the global Gross Domestic Product of 101.6 trillion US dollars are leading economically because they give preference to a knowledge-based economy.
“According to statistics as of December 2022, digital enterprises are directly and indirectly contributing a minimum of 53 trillion US dollars to the global GDP. By implication, you can safely say that more than half of the global GDP depends on technology, digital innovation and digital entrepreneurship,” he said.
“Today, digital entrepreneurship, digital innovation and knowledge-based activities are building the global economy and we need to invest in our youths that have innovative ideas,” he added.
He further stated that Nigeria is blessed with so many talents and innovators and that young Nigerians have been making the country proud by winning prizes at global ICT events in UAE, Barcelona, the USA, and Saudi Arabia.
While emphatically stating that the NSA would consolidate the achievements of startups in the country by providing legal frameworks as well as technical and financial backing to further encourage them, the Minister said that “Today in the Act, there is a provision of supporting them financially. The government will set aside a minimum of 10 billion naira annually in addition to other sources of funding that have been captured in the law.”
Prof. Pantami also noted that it 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, and government revenue generation amongst others.
Announcing the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa as the secretary of the committee, the Minister urged all the members to expend their time, energy, knowledge and experience to support the ecosystem so as to reduce importation in the country and prioritise production.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Kashifu Inuwa 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.
While noting that startups are critical drivers for economic growth, Inuwa asserted that 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 have no doubt that our collective expertise and experience will help us implement the NSA successfully,” he concluded.