African countries have created at least nine sandboxes since 2016. These sandboxes facilitate partnerships between fintechs and traditional financial companies and fast track market growth by enabling the introduction of new solutions. Apart from regulatory sandboxes, how else can stakeholders improve the regulatory landscape for tech in African countries?
In collaboration with TechCabal Insights, we’ve released a report examining the regulatory environments in six major African startup hubs. It looks at whether the government is innovation-friendly or not and the key regulatory bottlenecks. Based on what’s working elsewhere in local and foreign contexts, as well as carefully-collated expert knowledge, this report makes the following recommendations:
1.Government authorities should aim for synergy across regulatory bodies if regulatory bodies and their functions can’t be merged.
2.Collaboration and communication with key stakeholders should be prioritised; a cohesive, multi-stakeholder approach to policy and regulation will go long. However, this communication has to be two-way. Startups and investors (individually or as groups and associations) should also be deliberate in engaging and educating regulators on how best they think they should be regulated.
3.To better carry out their jobs, regulators need to understand and appreciate the role of technology in building their economies. One example that they can lean on is Singapore’s MAS, which staffs some of its workers in private companies for some time to help them understand new technologies.
4.Regulation should be multi-staged to match the stage of the company’s growth. At the early stage, when the impact of the company’s activities is minimal, there should be relaxed regulation. Growth indicators include revenue, number of employees, years in operation etc.
5.Startups and investors need to be pragmatic and realise that they are not operating in an ideal environment, particularly those expanding to new markets; they should be highly cautious and engage the regulators at every step of the way. They can also acquire a new company to get around complicated regulatory environments.
WATCH: AN ANALYSIS ON HOW REGULATION CAN SHAPE THE FUTURE REPORT
Silver Kayondo (Partner, Ortus Advocates – Uganda)
A Ugandan and South-African dual-trained lawyer and social entrepreneur, Silver Kayondo is a Partner at Ortus Advocates, Kampala. He has represented clients in notable legal and regulatory mandates spanning venture capital/private equity, social media, e-commerce, fintechs, healthtech, agri-techs, et cetera. He is an experienced advisor on strategic risk, market entry strategy, crisis management, national security, regulatory investigations and enforcement actions. Silver represents several market-leading unicorns from the USA, Europe, UK and Africa doing business in Uganda.
Oswald Osaretin Guobadia (SSA, Office of the Nigerian Presidency; Lead, Nigeria Startup Bill)
Oswald Osaretin Guobadia is currently the Senior Special Assistant to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Digital Transformation. He is the lead on the Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB) – a strategic project to the growth of Nigeria’s tech ecosystem and digital economy. He is the founder of DBH Africa – a building infrastructure and technology solutions provider in West Africa. He actively supports startups in business strategy, operations optimisation and technology.
Oswald was just recently appointed as a Director on the Board of Edo Innovates – the engine hub to drive technology and innovation in Edo State by providing strategic policy guidance, leverage on skills development, investment promotion and tech advancement in the state. His ultimate goal is to influence the economic narrative of Africa for good, through helping to build sustainable businesses that contribute to economic development, job creation and also thrive inclusively in an interactive ecosystem.
As an African passionate about addressing development issues, he believes that startups and SMEs must take the lead to unlock the potential, drive, and sustain economic value on the continent. This is evident in his published body of works, primarily in his book – In Pursuit: Journeys in African Entrepreneurship. https://theinpursuitbook.com/
Mr Guobadia holds a Masters in Telecommunications from Pace University and bachelor’s degree from Wesley College.