FG makes case for Startup Act, projects fresh inbound investments
•Startups tasked on innovation, product marketability
The Federal Government has assured that the Startup Act would ensure fresh investments into the tech ecosystem, as well as the Nigerian economy.
Speaking through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), FG stated that the Nigeria Startup Act would provide an enabling environment for growth, attraction and protection of investment in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem.
The Startup Act, which was signed into law recently by President Muhammadu Buhari, institutionalises legal frameworks that will enhance the growth of startups in the country.
At a Consultative Forum for IT Stakeholders in Lagos, yesterday, the Director –General, NITDA, Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, said the Startup Act would make it easier for startup owners to grow their businesses and thereby grow the economy.
Represented by the NITDA’s Director of Standards, Guidelines and Frameworks, Oladejo Olawunmi, Abdullahi noted that part of the challenge being faced by startups especially in Africa, was legal backing and the law had taken care of that.
Abdullahi noted that starting and growing businesses in Africa used to be a big challenge, but with the law in place, it would now be easier to start and grow business in the country.
While affirming government’s commitment to the growth of digital economy in Nigeria, the NITDA DG said: “We believe our own responsibility is to come up with policies that can enable a level playing field, and the government has been doing a lot in this area, starting with expanding the mandate of our ministry to cover digital economy, and the ongoing implementation of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a digital Nigeria, which outlined its strategic pillars that are key to the ecosystem.
In her presentation on Startup Act and its implications for a digital economy, a manager at NITDA, Barrister Zainab Inuwa Gani, said NITDA would fully implement the Act to make it work for every startup. Zainab said though IT demand was changing rapidly, the Act has relevant sections to counter the changing nature of technology.
She advised tech startups to always come up with innovative products that would be sellable in the future market.
According to her, the Act would also close the talent gap and make Nigeria be at par with some advanced economies. She said: “In Nigeria and of course across Africa, we cannot compete with the rest of the world in terms of hardware and any technology infrastructure, but when it comes to talent, we have a competitive edge over the rest of the world. So we want to build on this with the Act.”
However, some IT stakeholders at the event said for the Act to make any meaningful contribution to the economy, it must be fully implemented by NITDA and other MDAs.
Cautioning NITDA on implementation, a data compliance professional, Amos Emmanuel, said the Act would only attract foreign investors to the country if the relevant sections that speak about tax, charges, duties are implemented with sincerity.
Emmanuel said if a company sees that its competitor is given an undue advantage over it in the name tax exemption, it would discourage more investment.
Also, a software engineer, Emmanuel Omoke said NITDA should set up an implementation team.
According to Omoke, the implementation team should consist of staff from all MDA and all the professional bodies in the country.