The time needed to register businesses in Malawi has reduced tremendously as a result of some reforms and mechanisms put in place by the Registrar-General’s Department to facilitate business operations in the country.
The average time for the registration of business names has gone down by 32 days—from 37 days to five—principal assistant Registrar General Chifwayi Chirambo has said.
The improvement is largely due to the online Malawi Business Registration System, which was launched in February this year, alongside the collateral registry, which is part of the Public Service Reforms Programme (PSRP) being implemented by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs through the department of Registrar General and Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Malawi was one of the least developed countries that has been slumping on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index due to lackluster performance in business reforms.
For example, this year, the country ranked 150 out of 190 economies on the World Bank Doing Business 2017 Index as time taken to register a business was at 37 days.
Speaking on the sidelines of Opportunity Bank Malawi SME Banking workshop in Blantyre, Chirambo said it now takes only about five days to register a business in the country.
Said Chirambo: “We are now taking a maximum of four days to register a business but when all systems are intact, we can even go down to just hours for a business to be registered in the country. This is a very good result in the system and we are still hoping to get to the levels where we can register all business in hours.”
He, however, said Internet connectivity remains challenge as the registry is an online platform.
“The system is online and demands Internet usage. Sometimes, you will find that there will be downtime in Internet connectivity, but this downtime will be on the side of the Internet service providers (ISP).
So we are currently using a dedicated optic fibre line between our Blantyre and Lilongwe offices to counter the challenge. However, when the optic fibre line is down, our system also goes offline which, in turn, affects how long we register a business,” he said.
Malawi has just completed and implemented a $20 million (about K15 billion) World Bank-funded Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme-Malawi Project (RCIPMW) to improve Internet connectivity in the country.
On her part, Rita Ramalho, manager of the Doing Business Project said Sub-Saharan Africa region still has work to do to make the countries more business-friendly.
“We see steady improvements within various economies in the region, but more work needs to be done. To see a record number of reforms take place in Africa is very encouraging for local entrepreneurs and the global business community alike,” she said.
According to the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) business climate survey 2015 report, business registration is one of the barriers to doing business in the country. n