Zimbabwe’s e-Government takes shape as country introduces online company registration & licensing

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Company registration in Zimbabwe or applying for requisite licences to carry out business in industries like mining or farming is hardly easy – anyone who’s been through the processes will admit to that. in fact, it’s these same challenges that also push some entrepreneurs into informal trade. The good news, though, is that now you can do it online.

Earlier today we came across an advert promoting the online registration of liquor licences which led us to a State e-services website called ZimConnect. This is a Ministry of ICT online service that was launched this year to provide people with an online alternative for accessing some State services.

The name ZimConnect isn’t new to Zimbabwean technology, though. It was mentioned a lot around 2012 during Nelson Chamisa’s stint as the Minister of ICT when it was crafted and finalised as the country’s e-Government  framework.

It was also referenced recently in the 2016 National Budget Statement address made by the Minister of Finance where it was highlighted as a programme that would facilitate the launch of online government services – something that would hopefully reduce red tape and reign in corruption that comes with traditional service provision.

First impressions

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The site, which is fairly simple to use, offers a number of services which include visa applications, company registration, corporate name change, deeds search, the processing of investment and mining licences as well as the licensing for local government services like operating a liquor store.

Online Company Registration Zimbabwe

To access these services you need to create an account which will also allow you to view the progress on any of the applications made. The payment for any of the applications can also be made electronically and the site uses Paynow as its aggregator, something that conveniently brings mobile money payments onboard and opens it up to the unbanked.

What we couldn’t determine straight away, though, was how long the processing of any of these applications would take. While there’s a lot of transparency introduced through online processes and transactions, there’s no telling how many hands (or workstations) an application has to pass before it’s completed.

Other than that, ZimConnect appears to be a convenient tool for anyone who doesn’t want to go through the hassles that come with government services applications. More importantly, this tool could if harnessed effectively, actually bring about a faster management of early stage business formalisation for potential investors and local entrepreneurs.

The frustrations that come with those processes might have pushed away people who are keen in setting up a business, but hopefully an easier way of doing things, coupled with an online national tax management system, will help improve the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe.



26 Comments

  1. Netizen says:

    I would have been so stoked if the flagship service had been passport applications but I guess commercial services are better placed to drive e-governance development.

  2. Ronald says:

    they email passwords in plain text.

    All you need to register an account is a persons ID number and a working phone for the authentication code

    1. Anonymous says:

      You dont Forward??

  3. tkay says:

    So this is interesting. Attempting to register a company now. I wonder how long the whole process will take. Interestingly though we fell three places on the ease of doing business rankings by the world bank for 2016 ( http://goo.gl/8EHrLb )

    1. Anesu says:

      The 2016 results are based on 2015 processes. So this will only be factored into the 2017 results.

    2. Muzukuru says:

      Ok I am curous how much do they charge to register a company?

  4. G says:

    way to go, i am totally against the paper based system that is centralised in harare that has led to the so called consultants charging exorbitant prices for company registration. so that u gov, keep them coming

  5. Farai says:

    Well done, if this works well then we can spread this to Makombe, birth certificates and tv licencing.

  6. BCD says:

    Registering is a pain.

  7. Ephraim says:

    Thst good move

  8. Vicky says:

    Actually this is a development that has been in the pipeline for quite some time now. The online company registration function is not yet active though and is still being tested (the Registrar still hasn’t started advertising it as yet). You can see the evidence when you visit the website – any company name search (even ones for already registered companies) yields a ‘might be available’ result. It then allows you to submit your Memorandum & Articles of Association which is simply not possible without knowing which name is actually available.

    The idea is a noble one and it should help many once the system becomes fully functional. In the meantime we just have to work with 3rd party websites like http://www.companyregistrations.co.zw

    1. R Munyaradzi says:

      Nigel Gambanga must get his facts rights on the origins of ZimConnect and who crafted the e-Government Framework as well as all the e-Government Flagship Projects. That’s irresponsible journalism. It is not fair to give credit where it is not due and to deny those who deserve it

      1. [email protected] says:

        Get your facts right, this isn’t a traditional or formal news site.

        They are not journalists

  9. MhukaHuru says:

    They really need to pull the whole thing down, there is absolutely no security whatsoever, like Ronal highlighted above, If I have you ID details I can register anything in your name, as long as I have a working cellphone

    Pathetic!

  10. Anesu says:

    Some things will be adjusted as things go. The important thing is to keep an eye and ear out on user feedback. Otherwise two thumbs up from me for the effort and initiative!

    1. [email protected] says:

      There can never be a compromise on security. Are there people who still think like this in this age?

  11. gracca says:

    Very pathetic and in-consistence user interface, very insecure and they should pull this down. These projects should be awarded to people who actually know what they are doing

  12. Edmore says:

    The first thing it is not Nelson Chamisa thing. Registration by I.D and your phone is good security measure as it is part of the best practices in the ICT sector.
    Do we really need to criticize a system which you have just been reading about without you having used it?

  13. Patience says:

    So happy with this news , we have to start somewhere, even with the security flaws. This is progress.

  14. Duma Mtungwa says:

    This is a welcome development, a definite step in the right direction. The flaws in the system will be identified and fixed as we go.

  15. Garikai Dzoma says:

    Ok while the site will definitely need some improvement that is not a reason to pull the plug. It reminds me of the kinks of the Obama Care website. Instead of berating the government and jealously saying “the government should have given the contract to us” the experts in Silicon valley including big G, Oracle and Red Hat engineers offered to help and fixed the problems. http://goo.gl/s95uji Sometimes people need to be constructive in their criticism. I know I hate it sometimes but geez guys be patriotic! This is not a developed country and we have to start somewhere.

    To ZimConnect, whoever you are, you can really really do much better than this. You get marks for effort nevertheless.

    1. [email protected] says:

      All the more reason that we are more patriotic than those who hi 5 just because someone did something.
      There are standard practices in design, usability and most importantly SECURITY, which they have heavily compromised

      I am 100% Zimbabwean and have never set foot in a Silcon Valley company, but I will tell you that there is alot of wrong things with that site that any local developer/architect worth his salt …should have had covered.

      We won’t hi 5 and look away at things like their negligence on security(never mind the poor usability, broken links and ugly site…logo looks ok).

      Hi fives will be reserved for you

    2. Random User says:

      Kusvora zvakaipa is being patriotic.

  16. Shorai T says:

    Interesting effort. However launched too early for the security reasons cited above. Their challenge though comes down to data quality and integrity. It appears to me that they have no automated verification system for national ID and name i.e I can guess a format of a national ID and enter Barrack Chinoz as my name. It goes through. Probably that verification is done manually on a desk which is painful & overloads your systems at submission channel because you are paying for capturing all data rather than rejecting crap data at entry point and reducing storage costs.

    What may be needed is a Data Architecture design (I don’t know. They probably have done this) to first establish what do they want to capture and a roadmap for when that data grows becoming interlinked. You don’t want to lose those interlinks for they give rich insights. If the data grows in silos it is painful to bring it all together again. I happen to work on e-gov system somewhere in the world and it is a losing battle to fix it.

    Anyway back to this, the problem they have is that they probably do not have a unique identifier known only to individuals. There are no pieces of data that cannot be stolen birth cert, national id, passport number etc) There are not many secure options available other than getting individuals to verify themselves manually. Logical manual option is
    1) e-gov posts you a letter to your address (or email) with data elements that you take to a verifier agent (bank, gov office, lawyers, trusted office of power) along with all docs and they verify your identity on behalf of e-gov. One off audit-able process to get you signed up. Not very high tech but you want to know for sure people are who they say they are.

    Now back to the earlier point about data architecture. I like the citizen lifecycle picture they have on their homepage. Brings to life the role e-gov can play in each. Assuming a blank slate, you would design your data capture and management to follow through birth to death. Most used in the next few years are probably someway in that journey. So the challenge is how do you deal with an existing population while building a e-gov & data roadmap for the future generation starting from 0 (birth). These populations will go on create more data businesses, pension claims, deeds etc. A really good system is one that gives you a “Single View” of your customer (citizen). Scattered data is hard to monitor and get insights.

    Lastly, I don’t like that they are using a SAP ERP. Vendor lock in is very expensive to deal with and SAP creates monolithic systems. In a world of open source technology (Hadoop, Red Hat, etc) I would prefer we look at these technologies first and create an ecosystem of integrated applications by line of business/interest.

    Interested to hear your thoughts on your solutions to e-gov Zim….?

  17. ZimConnect User says:

    @ShoraiT,good solid analysis. I suggest that thru techzim, we track the bugs/areas of improvement and their resolution. This is an important verification process that the govt cannot ignore.let the users tell you what is wrong.

    1. Shorai T says:

      Thanks ZimConnet User.

      The points were rushed but hopefully enough to set the idea.

      I would be happy to be part of a forum were we highlight best practice and bugs to them. Provided TechZim has influence at the right level to get something set up completely independent but supportive. Hack for good.

      Over to you TechZim…

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