HARARE,– Zimbabwe is seeking to use information and communication technologies to improve the ease of doing business and improve investor confidence, a senior government official said on Monday.
Registering a company in Zimbabwe takes over 90 days to complete while costing up to over $1,500. As a result, Zimbabwe is seen poorly as an investment destination, and is ranked number 171 out of 189 on the 2014 World Bank Doing Business and 124 out of 144 in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report for 2014/15.
Industry and commerce ministry secretary Abigail Shoniwa on Monday told delegates attending International Customs day commemorations in the capital that the ease of doing business can only be enhanced when processes are streamlined to avoid duplication of duties by various government departments.
“It is, therefore imperative, that we harness technology and empower the lead agencies to facilitate various other agencies to issue out licenses or make online pre-clearances,” she said.
While the southern African country has attained over 100 percent data penetration rate, according to the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, government ministries are lagging behind in ICTs usage – resulting in high costs of doing business.
A recent study, carried out by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority with the support of the USAID’s Strategic Economic Research and Analysis (Sera) Programme, recommended sweeping reforms in the entire process, taking advantage of new technologies to ease the process of starting a business in the country.
“Reform of its starting a business procedures provides Zimbabwe with a unique opportunity to pioneer a new, efficiency-based approach to governance that will provide multiple benefits to both business and Government,” read the report.
Shoniwa noted that government, which is battling to improve industry capacity utilisation, was looking for various ways to facilitate new investments in order to boost production and reduce its wage bill.
“Reversing de-industrialisation which has seen a number of companies in the various sectors of the economy shutting down or drastically reducing their workforce will inevitably boost Zimbabwe’s economy,” she said.
Shonhiwa also said government has put in place a Standing Committee to address the cost of doing business pending the operationalisation of the National Competiveness Commission (NCC) in the first half of this year.
Last year cabinet approved the setting up of the NCC following a cost driver analysis which suggested that government review regulations on doing business to make the country investment friendly.
“While the commission is being set up, Cabinet decided to put in place a Standing Committee which will be attending to these matters with immediate effect,” she said. – The Source