Today, April 5, 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This marks yet another important milestone on the journey towards fully implementing the Nigeria Startup Act, 2022. The event was held at the Presidential Villa.
The Council is established to provide the implementation framework for the Nigeria Startup Act. The Council is expected to formulate policies for the realisation of the objectives of the Act.
NITDA is the implementing organ/partner to ensure the implementation of the objectives in collaboration with stakeholder participants from the ecosystem to ensure that the goals are achieved. The council would also provide the framework and support for the Startup Seed Investment Fund, which would be managed by the Sovereign Wealth Fund
The Council members are
- The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who shall serve as the Chairman
- The Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who shall serve as the Vice-Chairman
- The Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, who shall preside over the Council in the absence of the President and the Vice-President
- The Minister for Finance, Budget, and National Planning
- The Minister for Industry, Trade, and Investment
- The Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation
- The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, who shall serve, as the Secretary of the Council
- The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
- Four representatives of the Startup Consultative Forum
- One representative of the Nigeria Computer Society
- One representative of the Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria)
The Minister of Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami in his opening remark mentioned that “Nigeria, under President Buhari, has consistently been setting new records when it comes to ICT contribution to GDP.”
The role of the Council
According to the Nigeria Startup Act, the roles of the Council are:
- Formulation, monitoring and evaluation of the regulatory framework to encourage the development of startups in Nigeria
- Support for digital technological development through grants to persons, research institutions, and universities pursuing postgraduate programs in the areas of science, technology and innovation
- Approval of the programs of the council Secretariat
- Review of policies and directives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which may affect the operation, establishment and investments in a startup
- Develop, implement, and monitor guidelines for setting up digital technology innovation hubs, digital technology parks and community enterprise hubs in Nigeria
The Council Secretariat
The council secretariat is led by the Director General of the NITDA and has the following functions under the act:
- Manage the process of labelling a startup, as provided under this Act
- Set up a consultative body known as the Startup Consultative Forum on the Startup Portal to provide a platform for information sharing and collaboration in the Nigerian startup ecosystem. This is subject to the approval of the council.
- With the approval of the Council, appoint a Coordinator for the Startup Portal
- Ensure the implementation of the National Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startup Policy (NDIESP)
- Promote synergy between startups and angel investors, venture capitalists, private equity firms, private investors, development finance institutions, global asset management firms, financial institutions, research institutions and other related institutions at the national and international levels
- Maintain a directory of startups, incubators, and accelerators
- Support research and development activities undertaken by startups and commercialization of local research and development on digital innovation.
There is no doubt about the promising future of tech-enabled startups in Nigeria. The Nigeria Startup Act will support the growth of startups and the tech ecosystem in Nigeria. The inauguration of the Council will set the ball rolling for the implementation of the other provisions of the Act.