·         ZIDA launches DIY e-portal

·         Portal to shorten licence application period

·         Third phase of digitization to integrate automated systems with government systems

Harare - Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) has launched an Investor Do-It-Yourself (DIY) electronic portal in a bid to improve the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe, the Chief Executive Officer Tafadzwa Chinamo said on Thursday.

The DIY e-portal is a third phase of the digitization journey embarked on by ZIDA, and will allow for quicker and easy application and licencing of investments. Prior to the digitalization phase, application of investment licencing took a tedious manual process that extended to over 30-days. This process involved physical submission of applications, physical movement of files, manual processing, and paper-based registry.

The phase one of the digitization journey reduced the 30-days registration period to a circa 7-days, involving processes such as automated application submission and processing, online registry, and electronic aftercare and M&E.

The recently launched second phase of the digitization journey further reduced the registration period from 7-days to just 2-5 days. The process involves a self-service platform for investors which handles submission of applications, renewals, progress reports and investor interface.

On the DIY e-portal, a prospective investor can register or create an account with their details, create a profile for the company or prospective company while capturing information that would typically show on the company documents; sector of interest; any other related business ventures out of Zimbabwe, among other details. For due diligence, the investor also ought to outline shareholder details. Where the investor is a company or corporate body, the investor ought to outline details of individuals behind the ownership of that organization.

After submission of all necessary documents, an investor can proceed to apply for a licence on the portal, accompanied by a non-refundable US$500 application fee. Between 2-5 days ZIDA would have responded on the success or failure of the application through an email provided upon registration. The portal also provides a progress check of the application before a final verdict from the ZIDA board, which typically takes 6-stages after application.

If the application is successful and a licence is issued, an investor is expected to pay a fee of US$4,500 which brings the total payment to US$5,000 for a successful investment application. After 2-years of operation, the investor is required to pay an additional fee of US$3,000 for renewal of their licence if they wish to continue operating.

However, the renewal fee of US$3,000 is a fixed amount which does not necessarily equate to a fixed duration after payment. ZIDA holds the right to review progress of the investment, as well as compliance of every requirement. This process determines the extend period that will be granted to the investor upon renewal, with a maximum of 3-years and a minimum of 1-year. If the progress check is satisfactory, the investor will be granted a 3-year extension on their licence upon renewal, while an unsatisfactory progress check will win the investor only 1-year extension.

According to ZIDA, the digital licence obtained through the DIY portal is not yet accepted by certain bodies that include the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority as these bodies still require a hard-copy licence which can be obtained at ZIDA. As this is not convenient for investors in foreign land or in a different jurisdiction, the third digitization phase by ZIDA seems to be focusing on these key issues.

The third phase of digitization involves integration of automated systems with other government ministries, departments and agencies. According to ZIDA, the third phase of the digitization process will enable every government organ to accept the digital licence issued through the DIY e-portal.

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