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Creating an Enabling Environment for Nigeria’s Startups

A bill to formalize relations between startups and regulators in Nigeria was approved by the country’s executive this week and will now head to parliament to become law. Known as the Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB), the proposal is the result of collaboration between startup investors, entrepreneurs, law firms, policy advocacy groups, and representatives of the federal government. If implementation of the startup bill is successful, it will provide long-awaited respite for Nigeria’s startups that have found themselves navigating sudden, aggressive regulations (like motorcycle taxi, cryptocurrency, and Twitter bans.) Work on the bill started earlier this year involving frequent events held online and offline to clarify purpose and content. The delayed bill is not yet public but the aim, according to those involved, is to provide regulatory support to a thriving tech scene that spurs successful companies like Jumia, Andela, Paystack, and MainOne, attracts record amounts of venture capital (over $1.4 billion in 2021 alone), and is birthing a globally competitive workforce. The Bill has come about through a Big Tent Approach – close collaboration between the Presidency, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Export and Promotion Council and wider government bodies with almost 300 volunteers and private sector players participating, notably venture capital investors Future Africa and Ventures Platform, legal firms TLP Advisory and Aelex, policy advisors Advocacy for Policy And Innovation (API) and Innovation for Policy Foundation, and media organisations TechCabal and Wimbart. Google Nigeria and the UK-Government, through the West Africa Research and Innovation Hub and the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, are also backing the bill.