City of Harare aims to implement a new business licensing procedure to cut down business license application times in order to promote foreign investment.
Harare’s business licensing procedure has been identified as one of the major impediments to new investment in the city. In his remarks last month at a business licence mapping stakeholder validation workshop, organised by council in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID SERA), Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said that there was a need for council to streamline its business registration processes.
“It is disappointing for an investor from abroad or from within the region to be flying in and out of Harare to process their business licensing. Our processes should reflect our appetite for investment, our desire to grow the economy, our thirst to create jobs, our anxiety to be a World Class City by 2025,” said Manyenyeni.
The mayor said that shop license requirements take up more than half of the burden of starting a new business in Harare, as measured by Doing Business, the World Bank project which measures business regulations in 189 countries across the world. With nine steps required to set up a business, four of which are carried out at a municipal level, Zimbabwe is ranked a shocking 180th in the world.
“It takes up to three months to process a licence with Harare Municipal procedures responsible for 54 of the 90 days. This should be a thing of the past. If it means processing business licenses in one week, let it be. We are going to run at Usain Bolt speed to license all businesses. We will not sit idly by while investments fly to other cities and countries,” said Manyenyeni.
Acting town clerk for the city, Josephine Ncube, who also addressed the business licence mapping workshop, concurred with Manyenyeni saying that council should also review the planning and building plan approval processes as they are closely linked to the business licensing process.
“I would like to appeal for funding of a similar process in the planning and building plan approval areas to ensure that the full impact of the changes we are making today is felt. We are going to mount an extensive publicity campaign to market the revised procedures with the intention of luring investors who are disheartened by the status quo,” said Ncube.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Honourable Saviour Kasukuwere, urged all local authorities to speedily review and harmonise procedures for setting up businesses in order to attract as much investment as possible.
“Statistics show that in the latest Doing Business rankings, Zimbabwe ranks 170 out of 184 economies. Within the Starting a Business indicator, Zimbabwe is ranked at 180 out of 189 economies. The information coming to me shows that City of Harare shop licensing requirements account for more than half of the burden of starting a new business,” said Kasukuwere.
Kasukuwere also explained that municipal licensing reforms will have a significant positive knock-on effect on the investment environment in general and contribute to improving the country’s Doing Business ranking as measured by the World Bank.
“It costs $940 to set up a new enterprise in Zimbabwe and Municipal licensing costs take up 60% of the total cost. These are things that we need to dispense with immediately for the future growth of Zimbabwe and