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Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project holds awareness forum

Sep 21, 2012, 10:52 AM

The Gambia Growth and Competitiveness project recently held a one-day workshop to discuss the modalities to streamline business registration in The Gambia and to make it more attractive.

The workshop brought together officials from government and the private sector to review a nine-month streamlining programme by the US-based consultancy firm Alfa XP Web Software, specialised in e-government solutions.

The current system of business start-ups and operations in The Gambia are described by a World Bank study as being cumbersome and ineffective involving multiple institutions and forms.

As a result of this cost of starting and operating a business in The Gambia, it says, is prohibitively high at more than twice the GNI per capita.

The largest costs are said to be associated with the compulsory tax deposit, arbitrarily set annual and operational license fees, expatriate quota fees and other reported hidden costs. An estimated 27 days is what is presently required if one wants to register a business in The Gambia.

The objective of this GCP initiative is primarily to reduce the cost and delays associated with business start-ups and operation in The Gambia as well as improving the tax administration and starting up a collateral registry to support firms to gain better access to finance. The process started two years ago with a study by the World Bank.

Gambia government and private sector officials are given a chance as implementing partners to review the streamlining programme and to decide on host issues.

At the workshop the team leader of the US software consultancy firm Alfa XP Web Software, which has been tasked with the assignment, Sergey Chapkey, gave a Power-Point presentation to introduce his firm and show how they plan to go about the job of modernizing the business and secured lending registration systems in The Gambia, starting with paper and computerization of internal operations and then offering online interface with customers.

He stated that his company has done similar work in other parts of Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia, covering all three branches of government – the legislative, the judiciary and the executive.

He gave an example of modernizing the registration system took three months.

He estimates that by November the first prototype for The Gambia will be completed to be followed by the solicitation of feedback and fine tuning so as to make it perfect by January or February of 2013.

Their job involves the prevision of legislative amendments, drafting of new regulations, as well as streamlining, simplifying, automating and integrating registration processes across the board.

 Eventually, it is hoped this will reduce time and cost to register a company in the country’s historic records, enforce regulatory compliance and improve access to company data.

 Training and support will be provided in case officers who are going to use the system and to IT staff who would be administering it.