By Opeyemi Solaru

Over the past several years, the relationship between the government and startup owners has been strained — especially as legislation has often been a barrier to the success of startups. It is evident that government buy-in is absolutely critical for the innovation space to thrive. The Startup Bill is being driven by the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and aims to create synergy between the government and Nigerian startups.

Additionally, President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which proposed to restore economic growth from 2017 to 2020. In accordance with the plan, the government aims to foster a suitable business environment that promotes innovation and economic growth.

Several gaps have been identified in the legislation targeted towards the innovation ecosystem. For example, there are limited financial incentives for investors in technology and innovation. Also, the fluctuations in the exchange rate and poor infrastructure are other major barriers to growth within this industry.

Recently, Impact Hub Lagos collaborated with the Lagos State Government for the South-West Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB) Town Hall Meeting, which allowed startup owners and key stakeholders within the innovation space to offer some input into the Bill. For this program, we invited Ms. Fayo Williams to lead the discussion on the key objectives of this bill. Participants were divided into 3 categories: Capital, Infrastructure, and Talent & Human Development.

Many gaps, such as limited access to capital and difficulty of doing business due to the condition of infrastructure, were identified with proposed solutions of how the government can mitigate them. It was especially insightful to hear first-hand accounts from startup owners from the southwest geopolitical zone, as they were able to provide candid accounts of struggles they have experienced and how the government could address them.

Following this program, the key highlights from all discussions were included in a report which will be presented to government representatives, with the hope of being considered as the Bill is further developed.

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