The re-registration of all companies in the country on a new online platform providing free access to the public, kicks off in June and will run for 12 months, the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) has revealed.
Any company that fails to migrate to the Online Business Registration System (OBRS) will be considered non-existent after June next year. The re-registration is the result of a raft of laws passed last year to stamp out economic vices such as money laundering, while enhancing the ease of doing business by shortening the period and processes required to register a business.
Under the new laws, companies on the OBRS will list all shareholders including beneficial owners. In addition, there will no longer be provisions for a company to be “dormant”. Only two statuses will be possible – active and deregistered. CIPA held a stakeholder briefing with members of Business Botswana this week, where heads of companies were informed that those failing to register their businesses during the 12-month period after June 2019, would have their registration’s terminated.
The manual registration of businesses is not recognised under the new laws, meaning any company lawfully existing in Botswana must be registered online.
“Companies already registered are obliged to re-register on the OBRS and failure to comply with that provision will result in de-registration when the online registration come to a stoppage,” said CIPA’s awareness and communications manager, Marietta Magashula.
“Companies that comply and re-register within the stipulated period will be exempted from any outstanding annual returns as a way of starting afresh.
“Companies that register and re-register will also be expected to only submit latest company records.”
Magashula said CIPA would place kiosks inside its premises to help register businesses that have no access to the internet. Partner networks will also be finalised, to support the re-registration exercise. A delegate at the briefing, Pako Kedisitse suggested that parastatals and government entities should also link up to the OBRS to ensure smoother information sharing. “Business Botswana should advise government in this regard so that information is shared and also for correspondence in relation to registration numbers,” Kedisitse said.
Other delegates advised CIPA to integrate cyber security risks into their planning around the OBRS, to prevent cases of business registration information being stolen for fraudulent purposes. Members of Business Botswana also asked whether the system would be compatible with those using foreign passports, an issue Magashula assured had been resolved in the OBRS. “Foreign users will be requested to scan and upload their foreign passports and identity numbers. “On the issue of cyber security, any changes in the information provided by companies will be notified to the rightful owner through the emails provided during registration”, she said.
The OBRS will support updating of CIPA and proprietor’s information, 24-hour submission of applications and online searches. Name reservation, Declaration and Registration will now become a single process, which will shorten company registration.