Tanzania: We Are Killing Our Startup Ecosystem, Says Ndugulile

Dodoma — Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Dr Faustine Ndugulile has acknowledged the regulatory challenges and bureaucratic processes that inhibit growth of Tanzania's startup ecosystem, admitting that the government is killing the startup sector with erroneous legislations that work against the drive to a diverse economy where different players contribute to the national GDP.

Speaking to journalists in Dodoma today, the minister said there are many young brilliant minds out there who are eager to start their own businesses, however, due to regulatory challenges most of these ideas never see the light of day.

Dr Ndugulile gave an example of online content creators who are required to pay a sum of Sh1 million to run online channels. "Why would someone who is running an Instagram or YouTube channel, only owns one camera or a phone to create content be required to pay the government to run that page?" questioned the minister.

He said through his ministry's close collaboration with the ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, they are going to review the law and amend all sections that curtail development of creatives. This includes removing the section that requires online content creators to pay to run online pages.

On startups, the government, through the ministry of Communication and Information Technology, says it plans to create a local "Silicon Valley" that will incubate startups and set a clear path for creative ideas to thrive within the next three years.

"The government is aware of the many opportunities that can be availed by just having an enabling environment for startups to thrive. We know that young Tanzanians are filled with business ideas that can create real change in the national economy," said Dr Ndugulile.

The minister's sentiments are echoed by a number of innovators who decry the challenging environment they encounter when striving to start their own businesses. They also acknowledge the need for more support for local startups. President of Tanzania Startup Association (TSA), Mr Zahoro Muhaji in his opinion piece titled 'Why more focus should be on tech startups' highlighted the billions in shillings that startups have so far generated. He gave an example of local startup Kopa gas that in 2020 managed to sell its innovation for a tune of Sh57.5 billion to a foreign company. According to the startup enthusiast, this is one example among the many that have been evident in Tanzania, yet there seems to be little to no support for the startup ecosystem both on regulations but also in the public domain.

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