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Should Startups and Innovators be Concerned About the Proposed National Information Technology Development Agency (“Nitda”) Act 2021?

The National Information Technology Development Agency Bill 2021 (the “Bill) which suddenly came into circulation in the past week, has raised concerns amongst industry stakeholders. Although it is presumed that this Bill emanated from NITDA itself, we are not certain of this fact. World over, the exponential growth of the digital economy has stirred up debate about the need for emerging technologies to be captured for regulatory oversights. Old laws are fast becoming obsolete and inadequate, and regulators are racing against time to catch up with the tech revolution.

However, overregulation or in indeed unnecessary or bad regulation can stifle and sometimes all together, kill innovation, resulting in minimal gains of technological advancement to government and the public. Regulatory oversight, although necessary, must therefore be done in a manner that supports digital innovation especially in an emerging digital economy such as Nigeria. In coming up with an up-to-date NITDA Act, it is advisable that the level of regulatory oversight should be commensurate with the activities being regulated and the level of risks such activities pose to the public.

The majority of tech innovators in Nigeria are still small size startups compared to developed economies such as the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China, etc. Heavy handed regulation will result in these startups being unfairly disadvantaged as a result of the high costs associated with regulatory compliance and slow the pace of foreign investment in that sector…

 

 

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