By: Peterson Tumwebaze
KIGALI : Obtaining investment registration and environment impact assessment certificates will be more efficient and cheaper following the launch of a new online platform.
The electronic portal (e-portal) will enable investors to submit applications for the issuance of certificates, and processing of tax exemption requests online.
The platform, launched on Friday by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), is expected to enhance efficiency in the processing and issuance of licences, including the investment registration and EIA certificates, Yvette Umutoni, the RDB division manager for investment promotion and facilitation, said.
“Online platforms drive the ease of doing business in any country. We, therefore, decided to adopt the technology to further reduce the cost and time it takes for one to apply and get certificates,” Umutoni said.
As the one-stop-centre for investments, RDB does not issue certificate of operation to investors unless they submit an EIA plan approved by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority.
However, the process of obtaining these documents has been entirely paper-based, costing investors a lot of money and time.
Mark Nkurunziza, the RDB chief financial officer, said the new online platform will significantly reduce the processing time (by more than half the time investors used previously – from about two days to one day). It also means that all the processes, which involve screening, site assessments and all other compliances required by RDB, can be tracked by investors, he added.
“Investors coming to Rwanda will now find it easier to register their businesses. Importantly, the e-portal will support our mission of transforming Rwanda into a dynamic global hub for business, investment and innovation,” Nkurunziza told this publication.
Hannington Namara, the TradeMark East Africa country director, said the platform will enhance service delivery and increase trade. “It will equally foster regional economic prosperity and create a more business-friendly environment for investors,” he added.
“TradeMark will continue supporting RDB to fully automate its systems and processes so that trade becomes more competitive, not only in Rwanda, but across the region. The e-portal therefore creates a link and exchange of important information,” Namara added. The portal also hosts the Rwanda Electronic Single Window.
Private sector welcomes initiative
Creating a more-friendly and less costly business environment will boost the private sector to deliver the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) objectives, Antoine Manzi, the director for operations at the Private Sector Federation (PSF), said.
“If we are to be able to increase our exports to 28 per cent per year, create 200,000 off-farm jobs, and reduce poverty levels to below 30 per cent, we will need to create a more conducive business environment to attract more investors into country,” Manzi said.
He added that the new online platform could help achieve this. According to the World Bank doing business report, Rwanda is ranked the third easiest place to do business in Africa and 46th globally.
How it works
The e-portal is multi-lingual and allows applicants to track the approval process of their application. On other hand, the RDB team is able to verify all submissions online, which enables faster issuance of certificates.