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Nigeria digital economy bill risks killing the golden goose

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Tuesday, 28 September 2021 14:35

A staff member works at the reception of the paystack online payment company in the government reserved area in Ikeja, in Lagos
Analysts fear companies like Paystack will be less attractive to investors if Nigeria follows through with its digital economy bill. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A Nigerian bill proposing to tax and regulate the digital economy risks stunting the development of one of the country’s only engines of growth.

The bill, leaked in August, would allow the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to issue licenses to digital economy businesses, collect taxes and punish those who don’t comply. NITDA already exists as part of the ministry of information and digital economy, but as yet has little power.

The proposed legislation lists the promotion of  local and foreign investment in information technology and the digital economy among its aims. Analysts fear the opposite will be the case if the bill becomes law. There are “uncomfortable” elements in the bill, says Ikemesit Effiong, head of research at SBM Intelligence in Lagos.