Beginning mid this month, registration of businesses and companies is going fully digital — meaning it will be much easier for those planning to establish a new business to conduct business name search, register and file returns. Acting director-general of the Business Registration Service (BRS) Kenneth Gathuma says the public should also expect an end to the malpractice of missing files and demand for bribes to push files. Mr Gathuma spoke to the Business Daily about the ongoing transformation of this critical department of the State Law Office, whose efficiency is partly linked to the overall competitiveness of Kenya’s economy. Here are the excerpts:
What does the digitisation of company registration entail?
It starts with the very basics. It means applications for registration of a business can now be done on the digital platform. We started this journey in 2015 when the government launched the e-Citizen platform, and after that an Act constituting our organisation, the Business Registration Service (BRS) Act of 2015, was passed. We are meant to implement the new company laws under the Company Act 2015, Insolvency Act 2015 and the Business Registration Service Act. In 2015 we started registration of business names and issuing name searches digitally, and significantly, on November 1 last year we started registering companies online.
We did it on a pilot basis for a month and on December 1 we went live fully, on e-Citizen. Thereafter, we also set up a digital platform for daily interactions between businesses and the registry, and since April we have had stability in the system. That has cut to a maximum of three days the time it takes to register a company without any external influence. We will be locking down the manual processes on October 15.
What can I do on the portal?
You can register a business name, limited liability partnerships, limited liability companies and also public companies. You can do searches on the portal, meaning you do not have to come here and queue for official search. For businesses registered after December 1, their data is already clean and is on the portal. But for those registered previously using paper files, the owners need to access the “link a business” function on the portal and key in the firm’s particulars. We have somebody on our end who goes and verifies the data from the physical file. Once we ascertain the information is in order, we make the company verified, and all its information goes digital. We have already scanned and archived all the paper files for future reference. On the e-Citizen platform, you pay using digital platforms such as mobile money, credit cards, bank transfers or cash deposit. You do not need to interact at all with the cashiers here.