Implications of the Startup Bill for Digital Businesses in Nigeria – Business Post Nigeria

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By Otori Emmanuel
Nigeria launching the Startup Bill is the latest buzz that has brought excitement to many, including start-up founders, employees and graduates.
On October 19, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria officially signed the Start-up Bill into law, creating the Start-up Act 2022. The Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB) project is a collaboration between the Nigerian tech sector and the Presidency to utilize jointly developed rules to realize the potential of its digital economy fully.
There is a relief in the industry due to this initiative to promote startups and rising digital businesses in Nigeria because there has been a need for a legal framework governing startup operations. The Startup Bill controls how startups operate and supports businesses with investments and tax benefits.
A startup is a business just starting and is frequently financed in its early stages by its intrepid founders. There has been a notable increase in the formation of startups during the past several years, particularly in Nigeria.
Many operate in tech-related industries, including edtech, finance, insurtech, logistics, agriculture, and health. As of September 2022, over 481 startups were operating in Nigeria, and 383 raised more than $2 billion in just seven years.
The Startup Bill Roadmap
Starting May 2021, the Startup Bill had been in process for over 17 months, with its first draft published in June 2021. Decision makers of the presidency and the ecosystem reviewed the draft designing its components in July 2021.
From August through September 2021, meetings for deliberations and validations were held until the final draft was released. In the latter part of 2021 to mid-2022, the Bill was submitted to the National Assembly, where it was read and passed into law and then signed in October 2022.
NSB influencing Digital Businesses
It is anticipated that Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB) will significantly improve the business environment for startups in Nigeria, fostering their success. The bill makes provisions for tax and fiscal incentives, training and capacity building, startup labelling, accelerators and incubators, regulation support, etc. This note focuses on the Act’s degree of impact by implementation on digital businesses, as explained below.
Business licensing and certification
With its enticing incentives for participating in the startup ecosystem, the Nigerian Startup Bill (NSB) appears promising. As a result, many digital businesses would need to certify to benefit from the bill.
To be eligible under the Act, the business must be a labelled startup operating for no more than 10 years and registered as a Limited Liability Company under the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020.
Only a few businesses that have propelled the growth of startups in Nigeria are older than 10 years as a Limited Liability Company under the provisions of the bill. Viably, this appears to be unfavourable to emerging and recent digital businesses (less than 10 years old).
Employee Cap
According to the bill, a labelled startup must employ at least 10 workers. A startup is a company in its infancy, sometimes referred to as the difficult years before stability. As the nation’s economy has rapidly declined, fewer digital businesses have had up to 10 long-term employees over the years because so many people are employed seasonally or under contract due to their lack of expertise or cheap pay.
Incompetence and Output
Tax relief for new businesses sounds relieved and like a long-overdue chance to use those fractions to support business growth. Many people would like to avoid paying taxes if they could. It is encouraging to see NBS introduce tax breaks, deductions or exclusions that lessen a business tax burden. Except that because of this clause, the labelled startup employee cap should be made up of 60% of people who graduated within the previous three years and have no prior work experience.
The expansion of digital businesses will be hampered by this, which appears to be battling unemployment at first glance. Evidently, production suffers when there are too many unqualified workers around – this is unhealthy for startups. Since tax relief is only available for a maximum of five years, startups prefer to hire skilled workers and pay taxes while being productive rather than sacrifice their growth.
Conclusion
The objective of the presidency and NSB to promote a well-organized startup ecosystem and labelling process in Nigeria is commendable, but unrealistic parts of the law should be evaluated and changed accordingly for a more supportive environment. If otherwise, startups might be dissuaded from operating in Nigeria, leaving the sector to only optimism that it will adjust naturally in the future.
Tompolo, Ebipade Kari as True Ambassadors of a New Niger Delta Region
Nigeria, the Floods and the ‘We Never Ready Culture’

President Buhari Signs Nigeria Start-Up Bill into Law
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By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
There are recorded events in the recent past that have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the nation Nigeria may not need gunboats to solve its problems, particularly in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, notorious for crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
Essentially, evidence has emerged and points to the fact that what the nation needs is sincere and selfless leadership, a politically and economically restructured polity brought by the national consciousness that can unleash the social, economic and political transformation of the country via sustainable public-private sectors partnership while rejecting the present socio-economic system that has bred corruption, inefficiency, a primitive capital accumulation that socially excluded the vast majority of our people.
A telling example is the result of the crude oil pipeline surveillance contract recently awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, a company owned by High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (A.K.A. Tompolo), the ‘Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation’.-and Global Ambassador of the Ijaw people.
According to media reports, barely two months after he was awarded the multi-billion naira oil security contract in the Niger Delta region, Government Ekpemupolo has discovered over 58 illegal points in Delta and Bayelsa States where crude oil is being stolen. More specifically, there was a media report that Tantita Security Service Nigeria Limited, on Thursday, October 7, 2022, successfully arrested a crude oil tanker loaded with an unspecified quantity of crude oil at the Escravos River in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Aside from the fact that Tompolo’s revelations in this direction have again rekindled the hope that despite Nigeria’s long romance with and love for corruption, there exist some of her citizens that cannot be corrupted, the development has also deeply sparked consciousness about challenges facing Niger Delta region before the human right and other advocates for oppressed communities, while bringing to the fore a renewed call for legislative and policy reforms that will permanently curb crude oil theft in the region and ensure that the process of decision making on issues that concern oil and gas sector and the living environment of the people of the region are opened up.
As the nation and, of course, the people of the Niger Delta region celebrate the ongoing process of liberating the region from economic hardship and environmental pollution, it is, however, important to recognize that Tompolo’s contributions towards the restoration of peace and sustainable development in the region are long-standing,  noticed across the globe and deeply qualifies him as a catalyst for a new order and  Niger Delta region’s ambassador for peace and development.
This piece may not be alone in this line of belief.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), in a recent report titled Nigeria’s Stolen Oil, The Military And A Man Named Government, specifically noted that, “Tompolo’s motivation for the crackdown on crude-oil theft has left many bewildered. He is getting paid for it and has spoken glowingly of his love for Nigeria and the Niger Delta environment.”
Again, like the generality of right-thinking Nigerians, the Guardian Newspaper, in a well-considered commentary, agreed that Government Ekpemupolo of Oporoza Town, Gbaramotu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, is a reputable community leader that holds one of the highest traditional titles in the Ijaw nation known as the ‘Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation.
The newspaper further stated that as the Global Ambassador of the Ijaw people, Tompolo displayed honesty, truthfulness and sincerity in all his dealings. Most importantly, the newspaper admitted and recognized chief Tompolo as a leader of the Niger Delta, fighting for the control of the region’s resources and a reversal of the environmental degradation in the Niger Delta.
This piece believes that Guardian Newspaper’s editorial board cannot be wrong in this latest description.
Away from the Guardian’s objective analysis to another sincere x-ray of Chief Tompolo’s personality by Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher for the International Crisis Group (ICG).
Obasi, in that report, said; Tompolo’s acceptance of a presidential amnesty program offered by the Nigerian government in 2009 was “highly significant, some would say decisive, in ending the violence at the time” and that the former militant still commands a strong following in the Niger Delta region.
Separate from the above observations, Chief Tompolo himself, while speaking on his burning desire to achieve results in this respect, made comments which suggest that he placed his life at risk for this national duty.
Take, for instance, while noting that he is 100 per cent committed to eradicating this menace of illegal oil theft and refining from the Niger Delta, warning those who have operated unhindered for years to detach and leave the area or face dire consequences from the surveillance team as it would not be business as usual, High Chief Tompolo said; we are not too scared of our people. We are more scared of people with guns involved in these activities than people without guns. We are more scared of the GSAs that are accomplices in this and the oil multinationals than we are afraid of our people’.
Even as High Chief Tompolo is celebrated, this piece holds the opinion that another personality that has, through the ongoing surveillance, emerged as a new face of the Niger Delta region is Chief Ebipade Kari, the Operational Head of Tantita Security Services Limited and the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, who was reportedly offered a bribe of Twenty Five Million Naira (N25m) to let the ship (MT Deinmo, with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number 7210525, )  go but he turned down the offer.
For me, this is commendable!!!
Thus, this piece holds the opinion that Chief Tompolo and Ebipade Kari are, in the interim, the real ambassadors of the new Niger Delta region!!!
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). He can be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.
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By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said over 1.5 million children in Nigeria were at an increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning, and malnutrition as a result of the severe flooding in many parts of the country.
According to a statement released by the UN body, the flood, which has affected over 2.5 million adults and children in 34 out of the 36 states in the country has displaced 1.3 million people.
Cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases were also revealed to have already been on the rise.
In the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe alone, a total of 7,485 cases of cholera and 319 associated deaths were reported as of October 12.
In other stats, the Humanitarian Minister says the deluge injured more than 2,400 people and partially or completely destroyed over 200,000 homes. With 108,000 hectares of farmland damaged, the floods could also hurt Nigeria’s food supply. Plus, 332,000 hectares of roads and infrastructure have sustained damage.
In Bayelsa, the former president’s home is submerged in the floods, from the flooding which have affected 27 of Nigeria’s 36 states.
Did I add to the fact that in September, a dam in Cameroon, which borders Nigeria to the east, released excess water? Nigeria does not have a dam to contain the overflow, even though the two countries agreed in the 1980s that one should be built.
This is Nigeria’s worst flood in over a decade, there will be a food crisis alongside displacement and waterborne diseases.
King Charles III, aka Omo Iya Charlie, the British monarch, has described the devastating floods that have ravaged the country in recent months as deeply saddening.
In a condolence message to President Muhammadu Buhari, the British monarch said he and his wife were “deeply saddened” about the situation. He sympathised with victims, adding that his thoughts were with those working to support the recovery efforts.
Even though the US has provided $1 million in support, our government is at a loss on the direction to take.
It’s all too human to look for someone to blame after a huge natural disaster, but that doesn’t help anyone — certainly not the victims, the survivors or the people whose livelihoods were washed away by the masses of water within minutes.
I hardly approach things like these with a know-it-all attitude: Nigeria has 200 million politicians, leaders and experts, like in football, everyone seems to be a coach, and everyone is a disaster relief expert.
So, interestingly I am not fixated on the floods but on very important allied issues around the flood and nationhood. The floods are basically a result of rapid urban growth and poor planning, which makes the issue worse. After heavy rains in urban areas, the most common cause of the flooding is inadequate drainage systems and equally the almighty climate change.
The President has left for South Korea for a Bio Summit. No national address, nothing put in place. We simply never ready—
Where are our soldiers in this humanitarian disaster? In other climes, the military would have established flood relief camps across the country, with aviation sorties flying to far-flung areas of the country to rescue thousands of stranded people.
The Nigerian army should ordinarily be the country’s most efficient and well-resourced institution and best positioned to carry out relief work on the scale warranted by the recent disaster. Sadly, this is not the case.
Generally speaking, we have no national frameworks, policies, plans, guidelines, and risk assessments, as well as well-stocked warehouses for emergencies and revised building codes specially formulated for disaster preparedness and resilience. When we find one, they are merely limited to paper. In a practical sense, the country has never taken disaster management as a serious matter. There is hardly any work done on improving the institutions that work on disaster management.
A nation divided by the forthcoming elections along ethnic, religious and all sorts of fault lines has no participatory approach to disaster management. With a very diverse landscape, which requires different planning in different regions. Therefore along with investing and focusing on research and policies, disaster-resilient infrastructure is an important aspect to minimize risks for the future.”
The truth is that communities generally did not respond to the little Emergency Warning issued by government officials. Flood warnings were taken lightly, and no effort was made to vacate the houses/villages/communities etc. People were found stranded and engulfed in flood water in their pockets waiting for government help.
Organizational efforts at the area level by the public themselves were not visible.  Any emergency response mechanism at the area level did not exist at all. Inhabitants were not found cooperative with regard to security measures and the capacity of boats.
Disciplined organization of rescue operations and control of the public has not occurred, and this is not far-fetched because Disaster Management which ordinarily should involve cooperative work among multiple organizations from multiple sectors, remains poor. There is an absence of a cohesive network.
The Nigerian army is currently not carrying out any major operations in the flooded areas beyond pedestrian relief materials being shared was a main source of concern for the rescue teams.
Even when the floods recede, there will be no comprehensive review of the National Disaster Management Policy, whether in terms of strengthening it or providing complete clarity on mandates, roles and responsibilities. There will be nothing like a strategic planning network on flood response established immediately to meet periodically (preferably quarterly in peacetime) to prepare for a cohesive response.
We are never ready, colour TV transmission was introduced first at Benue Plateau Television, Jos, in July 1974 and in India, it was introduced in 1979, decades after we have not moved forward, we have seen growth, but there is no development, our priorities not set right in any form, another few years from now, we did be discussing another flood, and same reasons would apply, are we ready, would our culture allow for planning for the future, and would there ever be sound emergency preparedness construct—Only time will tell.
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Picture the world’s children in 2050. Where do they come from? The answer might surprise you. If today’s demographic trends continue, almost half of all people under 18—about 40%—will have been born and raised in Africa.
As digital penetration increases, a growing number will be adept users of technology, and some will be part of a new generation of world-class innovators in Africa.
Most of this population will grow up in cities, often in urban areas that doubled in size during their childhood. Regardless of where they live, many may be desperately affected by the consequences of climate change.
Moreover, as these young Africans grow up, they will become an enormous consumer market and a large share of the global workforce. As a group, they could become influential in the growth of international business and the evolution of emerging markets.
So far, however, none of the stakeholder institutions that will be involved in their lives—businesses, governments, civil society organizations, and development agencies—are fully prepared for the opportunities and challenges created by this new demographic.
Why Africa’s Future Matters
The ongoing African baby boom is just one of six broad megatrends that are already beginning to affect the continent. Others include the accelerating urbanization of the region into megacities, the expansion of internet and digital penetration, and the increasing effects of climate change. Two other factors that will shape Africa’s future are a growing movement toward international cooperation within the continent and the rise of local innovation, including many advances led by women and young entrepreneurs.
To better understand these megatrends—and to suggest game-changing moves that might help the continent reach its remarkable potential—we conducted an in-depth strategic analysis of prospects for Africa over the next 30 years.
More than 120 experts from a wide range of backgrounds participated in interviews, workshops, and focus groups. These advisors included African political and business leaders, including executives of leading firms across sectors; influential figures in civil society, academia, and key not-for-profit organizations; thought leaders on African economics, society, and development; and leaders from US government agencies working in Africa (including the project sponsor, USAID).
The mood in most of these conversations reflected a mix of excitement and concern. Unlocking the power of Africa’s people is a daunting task—but doing so will be fundamental to achieving a brighter future for African citizens, and for economic growth and development in the rest of the world as well.
The Six Megatrends
Here is a closer look at the most significant megatrends forging the Africa of the mid-21st century.
Africa’s People Will Be Young
By 2050, the population of the continent, including sub-Saharan and North Africa, will double to reach 2.5 billion. As much as 60% of Africa’s people will be under 25. A huge working-age population can be a disruptive force, leading to unrest and migration if there are insufficient jobs. But with ample opportunity, the youthful demographics can help catalyze economic growth, particularly in domains that require motivated and skilled labour, such as manufacturing, energy (especially the transition to green sources), and digital technology.
With its young population and an estimated combined GDP of $2.96 trillion in 2022, Africa is poised to become the world’s largest growth market for consumer goods and services. It may also serve as a primary resource for talent, exporting digital natives and skilled labour to the rest of the world. These bright futures can only come to pass, however, if the region’s educational institutions, supported by government and private investment, can provide the necessary schooling, skills training, and related services—a task that could require as many as 17 million additional professional educators. “If Africa is to create jobs for the youth bulge,” says Corporate Council on Africa CEO Florie Liser, “[its countries will] need to harness their capability to add value, to become bigger players in regional and global supply chains, and thereby impact their development.”
Africa’s Cities Will Be Crowded
Urban areas in Africa will attract an additional 1 billion residents by 2050. Experts forecast the urban population to triple and the number of “megacities” —densely settled areas with 10 million or more residents—to increase from three (currently Cairo, Kinshasa, and Lagos) to 14. The growth of African cities will add vibrancy to the economy and culture of the region, attracting significant foreign investment and strengthening global business and trade ties.
When urbanization occurs this abruptly, it can destabilize a region; it can be challenging to provide basic services such as electric power and education, along with transportation links. However, if investment in infrastructure can occur rapidly enough, then urbanization tends to accelerate GDP and consumer spending, facilitate entrepreneurship and innovation, create new markets, and increase worker productivity. It can also lead to greater interchange between the government, the private sector, and the employee base. “Without that dialogue,” says Yvonne Tsikata, former World Bank Vice President and Corporate Secretary, “we will not succeed in achieving our development goals.”
The Continent Will Be Vulnerable To Climate Change
Despite contributing less than 4% to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 35 of the 50 countries most at risk from climate change effects are located in Africa. The continent can expect a temperature increase that will occur 1.5 times faster than the global average increase. This will lead to total deglaciation of Africa’s mountainous areas by 2050, rising sea levels along the coasts, and more extreme weather events, including droughts, storms, floods, and excessive heat and cold. These changes will have catastrophic impact on biodiversity and animal habitats—especially worrying because Africa is home to 25% of the world’s remaining rainforests. Climate change will also adversely affect some African livelihoods, such as farming and energy-related jobs, which are vulnerable to weather-related conditions. It may also intensify the threat from viruses and other health risks.
To mitigate these effects, the continent’s leaders will have to address current gaps in the availability of climate-related data. “We need to think about how to get accurate information to people on the ground in a timely manner,” says Joanne Yawitch, CEO of the National Business Initiative in South Africa, “and educate people on how to act on the data.” Many experts believe that climate-related challenges could drive Africa to become a center of innovation, leading the development of solutions.
Among the possibilities, which could add up to a $320 billion industrial sector in Africa, are renewable energy (building on the region’s abundance of solar, wind, and geothermal resources and its experience with off-the-grid solar solutions), carbon sequestration (taking advantage of Africa’s lands, forests, and coastlines), and new approaches to sustainable land use and agriculture. All of these are potential vehicles for green job creation.
Africa Will Move Quickly Into Digital Technology
This will occur more rapidly than many people currently expect. Africa’s digital tech sector, including software, cloud, and internet services, has experienced tremendous growth since 2010. Currently, its five-year growth rate is at 47%. Internet penetration has grown tenfold in the past 12 years, and the internet economy will reach $712 billion by 2050. There are more than 600 active digital and technological hubs across the continent, all making notable advances in fostering innovation and with both home-grown and global companies participating. The largest clusters of digital activity are in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa—with Ghana, Morocco, and Tunisia close behind.
“We’ve seen some exciting green shoots of growing digital capacity on the continent, but there’s more work to be done,” says Nitin Gajria, Managing Director, Google Sub-Saharan Africa. “The key pillars to advancing Africa’s digital growth are increasing connectivity; investing in entrepreneurs; creating affordable, fit-for-context products; and supporting civil society in doing these.” With appropriate investments in infrastructure, upskilling, and education at a large scale, Africa’s immense working-age population could position it as one of the world’s leaders in digital services.
The Region Will Be More Open To Intracontinental Cooperation
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent food crisis have demonstrated to African decision-makers in the public and private sectors that the continent needs to become more self-sufficient. Its countries and businesses need to cooperate more and reduce their reliance on international support. A few initiatives have begun to move Africa in this direction.
For example, in 2018, 44 of the 55 African countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA), establishing the world’s largest such trade bloc in terms of population and land area, covering 1.3 billion people. As of 2021, it has been signed by 54 member states and is gradually advancing to becoming operational. If the pact can overcome complex hurdles of the past—such as logistics, visas, and existing barriers to trade—it could produce substantial positive economic value. “The AfCFTA is very promising. Its potential impact in fighting key continental challenges such as food insecurity is huge,” comments former Senior Vice President of the African Development Bank Charles Boamah. “The political will that enabled this landmark agreement needs to be sustained to assure effective implementation and full realization of the promise.”
Another indicator of support for intracontinental cooperation was the African Union’s adoption in 2015 of Agenda 2063, a blueprint for future projects such as high-speed rail systems. There is also more interest in strengthening continental and regional organizations such as the AU, Southern African Development Community, and the Economic Community of West African States.
Africa Will Be a More Active Source Of Innovation And Entrepreneurship
About 22% of working-age Africans start small businesses, as compared to 18% in Latin America and 13% in Asia. The continent has a history of breakthrough innovation in recent years, including mobile payment and digital health care platforms. The continent’s entrepreneurial culture is especially promising from the standpoint of gender parity. Women from Africa are twice as likely to start an enterprise as women in other geographies. This rise in innovation is supported by the continent’s digital hubs, but is not limited to information and communications technology. Entrepreneurship in Africa is beginning to fuel transformative change in sectors such as energy, health services, pharmaceuticals, and sustainable agriculture and land use. In fact, the agricultural sector could grow to as much as $320 billion per year in annual revenues by 2030, helping to solve the challenges of food shortages related to climate change. Africa could even evolve into a breadbasket for Europe and the Middle East.
“Nigeria remains at the nexus of innovation in Africa, with many young innovators designing solutions ranging from e-health to agritech, thereby boosting macro-economic gains and creating a more inclusive economy. This is critical as Africa’s pressing challenges can be mitigated through sustainable solutions and partnerships between the government and private sector players,” according to Tolu Oyekan, Managing Director & Partner, Head of BCG, Nigeria.
Meeting the Opportunities and Challenges
If these megatrends can be navigated successfully, they could help in advancing Africa’s social and economic progress. The world has seen many emerging economies parlay their young populations and entrepreneurial spirit into innovative growth. With targeted investment and thoughtful action, the same could be true for Africa.
One critical enabler to African innovation should be the expansion and availability of funding sources, including venture capital and private equity. “There are many bright innovators on the continent who have incredible ideas, but can’t monetize them due to an inability to access capital,” says Nicholas Nesbitt, chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance. “Creating new channels for investments will be key to supporting African innovation.”
If you would like to learn more about significant trends and promising policy developments in Africa, see the full report here. The report also details two game-changing concepts with the strongest potential to drive African development over the next decade: digital skills acceleration and climate analytics and planning. This research was funded by the USAID Mission to the African Union and conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
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