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Uganda Startup Policy Delegation Benchmarks with Tunisia

Part 1: I bring you kind regards from the Tunisia Startup Ecosystem where the Uganda diplomatic delegation is visiting for a benchmarking study on startup legislation growth and development.

Dear Uganda Startup Ecosystem, allow me to bring you kind regards from the Tunisia Startup Ecosystem where the Uganda diplomatic delegation is visiting for a benchmarking study on startup legislation growth and development.

The delegation comprises the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Trade, industry and cooperatives representatives, and myself representing startups, entrepreneurs, and the entire startup ecosystem at the private sector level, particularly as the representative of Startup Uganda.

This benchmarking activity is supported by the JICA project that shall run a Uganda capacity-building and ecosystem-strengthening project for the next 3 years targeting scaleup startups that also picked interest in supporting the startup policy process.

Firstly, let me make a personal disclaimer; “the Tunisian startup ecosystem must be the most developed in Africa” which validates why it was the first to have a startup act in Africa in 2019.

The 5-day activity is an intense activity to meet and engage with key stakeholders of the Tunisia startup ecosystem.

On day one, we were able to meet with Tunisia’s Ministry of ICT, GIZ, The Dot Accelerator, and Salma Baghdadi; an Ecosystem Champion. These meetings were so magnificent that, you could see the whole picture of a functional startup ecosystem.

Uganda Startup Policy Delegation in a meeting with the Tunisia's Ministry of ICT. PHOTO: Keneth Twesigye
Uganda Startup Policy Delegation in a meeting with Tunisia’s Ministry of ICT. PHOTO: Keneth Twesigye

The Tunisia Ministry of ICT started with a national strategy that existed before the Startup Act that focused on three things; (1) Support and supervision structures/institutions, (2) Programs and Projects, and (3) Incentive support mechanisms.

By the time they implemented the Startup Act, it picked up from the existing process. That act is so exciting and articulate of what the ecosystem wanted but more importantly independent of government. The act is geared towards promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and the creation of startups by providing a supportive regulatory framework with objectives of creating 1,000 labels, 10,000 jobs, and sales of around USD$320 million (approx. UGX1.18 trillion, TND995 million)

The ICT Ministry took us through the details of the Startup Act and you clearly could tell why an ecosystem like Tunisia could not fail to grow. Here below is a highlight of the three parts of the Act:

  • Legal frameworks and incentives: (1) the startup label provides a certification that grants startups various benefits, including tax exemptions and simplified administrative procedures, and (2) the financial incentives include exemptions from corporate taxes and employer contributions to social security for up to eight years.
  • Funding and support: (1) the startup fund which provides financial support for startups through grants, loans, and equity investments, and (2) the Innovation and Development Grants which aim to support research and development activities.
  • Administrative and regulatory support: (1) simplified administrative procedures that help reduce bureaucracy and streamline processes for setting up and operating a startup and (2) support structures that help establish incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces to provide startups with resources and mentorship.

What you haven’t heard about Tunisia which keeps coming from the corridors is that their next step is the realization that the Startup Acts need to revolve. The country is in the process of creating the second version of the Tunisian Startup Act to include the things that they did not take into account 5 years ago. This is so interesting to learn and I think as the Ugandan process of policy and act proposals take place, we need to take it into account.

Editor’s Note: The article is written by Keneth Twesigye; Policy Lead at Startup Uganda, and CEO of TechBuzz Hub

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