The Senegal Startup Act has been passed by the country’s cabinet and will now go before the National Assembly next month in order to be passed into law.
Disrupt Africa reported in August 2018 more than 60 key players in the Senegalese innovation ecosystem came together to draft a startup act at the i4policy hackathon in Dakar.
The Senegal Startup Act contains a number of recommendations that aim to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, covering areas such as tax policies, startup financing, startup labeling, and the promotion of data collection and sharing so that entrepreneurs can develop better business plans.
Earlier this month, President Macky Sall’s Council of Ministers considered and adopted the bill, and it will now go before the National Assembly in December. If passed it would make Senegal the second African country to pass such an Act, after Tunisia.
The first specific startup law globally was passed in Italy in 2012, and Africa is increasingly catching on. A host of countries, with Mali also at an advanced stage, are working towards Startup Acts, with Jon Stever, co-founder and managing director of Impact Hub Kigali and catalyst at i4Policy, saying at least 10 African ecosystems are working on putting such laws together.
“I think that in a few years the question will be, “how many countries don’t have Startup Acts?”,” Stever said.
“This year, Smart Africa’s board, comprising 26 African heads of state, requested the Tunisian government to package and share learnings from their Startup Act. Moreover, the work of i4Policy signatories to support policy reforms is multiplying, as are our resources to support the work.”
According to Stever, governments are increasingly recognising that “entrepreneurs are the experts in entrepreneurship”, and can meaningfully contribute to public policy conversations. Before this startups, if addressed at all in legislation, were addressed through SME-focused laws.