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Ivory Coast is positioning itself as a significant player in Africa's startup ecosystem with the introduction of a new legislative framework designed to support the country's entrepreneurs.
The Ivorian Council of Ministers recently gave the nod to the Startup Act, a framework awaiting parliamentary approval.
The proposed bill promises to revolutionise the digital startup landscape by providing crucial financing and support terms to bolster vulnerable enterprises' resilience.
Other benefits the Act guarantees include a Startup Act award providing grants. Startups will also benefit from training, promotion, and access to public contracts and international markets.
According to Florence Tahiri Fadika, the technical advisor at the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the framework is adapted from Tunisia's Startup Act.
"The Tunisian model is inspiring because it is very operational…we are using the Tunisian experience to identify good practices," she noted.
This move is set to offer a lifeline to budding entrepreneurs, providing them with the necessary resources to scale their businesses and thrive in the fiercely competitive digital space.
It also includes a proposal to establish a special committee to register and label digital startups to enhance their chances of success.
The Act, when assented into law, will see startups "benefit from state-of-the-art infrastructure and different amenities to succeed regionally and internationally."
A comprehensive mapping study is already underway to identify the specific needs of the startup community, paving the way for tailored support programs. In preparation, the country is also developing new technology parks and startup campuses.
A number of African countries have shown the political will to increase startups in their regions through legislative frameworks and Acts that create an accommodative startup ecosystem.
Nigeria passed the Startup bill into law in October 2022, seeking to propagate innovation and create a hospitable ecosystem for new businesses.
Under the Nigerian Act, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Securities Exchange Commission relaxed licensing procedures for fintechs.
Nigeria has also launched a $672 million fund to support the tech and creative sectors, targeting young investors who struggle to raise capital.
Tunisia is a legislative front-runner with its Startup Act of 2018, with the legislation now credited with jump-staring that country's startup secen.
Disrupt Africa's Startup Funding report for 2022 shows 28 startups from Tunisia secured about 4.4% of the total funding in Africa.
Artificial intelligence-focused company InstaDeep was responsible for US$100 million of the country's total funding (US$119 million) in 2022.
German vaccine maker BioNTech has announced it would acquire the company for more than US$688 million.
Generally, capital inflows in Tunisia have surged, hitting more than $2.5 billion last year.
Senegal also passed a Startup Act in 2019 and has equally developed its startup space.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is also looking to diversify its economy through the promulgation of a November 2022 Startup Act, which isolates startups from the Small Business Act.
Egypt, South Africa, Mali, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Algeria, and Ghana have all show interest in developing dedicated startup laws.
According to Rocky Abdoul, a Dakar-based digital financial services expert, governments need to urgently implement such acts because of the values these policies promote.
"The problems of African startups are almost the same…limited access to funding, inadequate infrastructure, and limited market access," he explained.
These acts provide foundations to mitigate these challenges, Abdoul explained.
"For instance, the Nigerian Startup Act guarantees access to an exclusive list of public and private-led local funding opportunities. They include a 21 million dollar fund from the federal government," he said.
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