New law could fail to improve ease of doing business in Botswana


There are concerns that the new Business Registration law passed by parliament last week to liberalize the process of business registration and improve ease of doing business in the country could fail to generate intended results due to challenges associated with access to internet.
In its bid to improve ease of doingbusiness  in the country, the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry last week presented the Business Registration bill which is intended to ensure online registration of a business name and cut the turnaround time of the registration process from 7 working days to 1 working day.
According to the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Bogolo Kenewendo, the bill is intended to ensure that the business environment in Botswana is conducive and is not only conducive but also increases investor confidence and improves Botswana’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attractiveness. “It is also intended to improve our doing business rankings, but we do it because we want to see more heat in the domestic economy and growth in our industries. We would like the business registration system to be linked to other systems such as BURS and PPADB,” she said.
There have been concerns that registering a business in Botswana has been a long and expensive process when compared to other countries. After submitting business names investors were expected to wait for a week before approval of their submitted names and even if their applications have been rejected they were not refunded.
Some opposition Members of Parliament who commented on the new law have however indicated that the law which is part of doing business reform can have a positive impact in the domestic economy, only if government also decided to improve processes of application of working permits for industries which need foreign skilled labour and other factors such as turnaround time for allocation of business plots.
“We should not fool ourselves that this process is going to be smooth or it’s going to be without issues. The assumption is that the internet will be running all the time in all areas of this country and people will have access to internet 24 hours. We must ready ourselves for disappointments that may come anytime. We know that internet comes with availability or provision of electricity and we know the challenge we sometimes face on issues of availability of electricity. Although this is a good initiative it is without challenges,” said MP for Molepolole South Dr Thapelo Mmatli.
Mogoditshane MP Sedirwa Kgoroba said the law would have a positive impact on the ease of doing business only if other departments and government ministries implement processes that improve service delivery to investors. “As the ministry moves with that speed in terms of registering a business it should urge other departments or partners in government to move with the same speed, as that is the only effective way to improve ease of doing business, improve investor confidence and FDI. It is not quick business registration that could help improve ease of doing business, but also application of work permits. We should move in the same direction and speed in all lanes; otherwise the law won’t serve a good purpose,” said the MP.