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MPs doubt Gov’t ICT system can handle Online Business Registration

Publishing Date : 16 April, 2018

Author : REARABILWE RAMAPHANE

Despite parliament this week giving a go ahead to the proposed Online Registration bill presented by Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry Bogolo Kenewendo; legislators are sceptical about the readiness of government’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) system.


Kenewendo proposed to law makers’ the Companies Re-Registration Bill of 2018 with one of the major reforms being  affording existing companies to migrate accurate and reliable data to a new online system through a seamless and conjoined process. When presenting the bill Kenewendo said the proposed change would among others facilitate the development of the Online Business Registration Systems (OBRS) that aims to improve the overall efficiency in business registration.


Inside the highly anticipated Bill are provisions such as companies’ exemption from paying accumulated outstanding annual return fees during the transition period of the Bill. Further provisions suggest that the minister will have powers to make regulations that will supplement the provisions of the new system as he /she sees fit and as need arises. 


This bill comes after the approved ease of doing business reform in 2014. Kenewendo told parliament that the bill was part of a larger legal framework envisioned under the doing business road map. “The objective of the bill is to provide for the re-registration of existing companies under the companies act,” she said. Members of parliament showered the bill with praises saying that it was long overdue for Botswana Company and business registration processes to evolve and catch up with global times and international standards as well as procedures of doing things.


Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington South Ndaba Gaolathe noted that the Bill provisions would effectively govern the migration of existing companies into digitalized framework saying that was a welcome move. Gaolathe cited countries who have successfully put in place effective ease of doing business reforms and progressed to do well with wooing foreign capital including Rwanda and Mauritius. Gaolathe said this particular reform would restore investors and potential business people’s confidence.


Member of Parliament for Sefhare–Ramokgonami who is also Minister of responsible for permits and immigration issues Dorcus Makgatho said migration from manual registration was the way to go as many countries who have long implemented the latter were realizing positive impact on ease of doing business and consequently significant contribution on economic growth.


That notwithstanding, some Members of Parliament are also unconvinced the government ICT system, which is synonymous with ‘being down’ will help the process. The legislators argue that digitization of processes such as registration of data comes with causalities and its own complications.


Takatokwane Lawmaker, Ngaka Ngaka has advised that the Online Business Registration System be developed in a manner that would make it easy for the public to do online business registration rather than complicating things even further. Sharing the same sentiments as Ngaka is Member of Parliament for Ghanzi North, Noah Salakae who expressed concern that the government Information Communications System (ICT) could hamper the effectiveness of OBRS should it not be upgraded.


“I think we should ask the Minister of Transport and Communications to inform us about the state or the readiness of our ICT system to take over this job,” asserted Salakae. Legislators also added to Salakae‘s views, saying that upgrading of the government ICT system to enable successful implementation of e-government across various government departments was vital to proper and effective realization of reforms such as this one.


“If we could ease the registration of companies and company related processes, a lot of young Batswana would find it easier to register companies which would lead to employment creation,” added MP for Nata- Ngweta, Polson Majaga
It was also noted that institutions responsible for the implementation of the successful bill should guard against cyber errors such as duplication of names which might happen during the transition period. Propositions by legislators were that that there should be a contingency plan in place to guard against irregularities such as the aforementioned.


MPs also advised that Ministry of Investment Trade & Industry should invest adequately on raising awareness to Batswana on the changes once the implementation takes off. Meanwhile Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) Registrar General Conductor Masena told the media on Monday that online registration of businesses will go live this year, “Our ultimate objective is to adopt modern management systems and practices that facilitate quick and effective decision making with the ideal of assuring service delivery and efficiency to the business community.”

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