Nigeria executive approves startup bill, set for parliament

ABUJA, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill that seeks to ease regulatory hurdles, offer tax incentives and make it easier for startups to raise capital, paving the way for its transmission to parliament for debate, a government minister said.

Africa’s biggest economy has the most startups on the continent - more than 1,200 -, according to Briter Bridges Intelligence, a London-based firm that tracks investments into Africa.

The companies cite government regulation, weak infrastructure and difficulties accessing capital as major obstacles to success in Nigeria.

The Nigeria Startup Bill, which has been in the works since earlier this year, would create a government fund to support startups and tax holidays of up to four years, among other incentives for investors, communications minister Isa Pantami, told a post-cabinet news conference.

The bill, which will now head to parliament, is a result of collaboration between the presidency and the private sector, Adaeze Sokan, country director at UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, said.

“This could serve as a model for policy making in Nigeria,” said Sokan, who took part in crafting the bill said.

Africa-focused payments startups Flutterwave and Paystack are some of the companies that were founded in Nigeria and have grown to offer services beyond the country’s borders.

Fundraising by African startups stands at $4.8 billion this year, according to data from Briter Bridges Intelligence. (Reporting by Felix Onuah and MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by David Gregorio)