Mozambique: Doing Business Made Easy by AfDB Support (One Stop Shops)
Pemba, Mozambique, October 29, 2009 – “The one-stop shops have made a real difference to our community,” says a small grocery shop owner in the northern city of Pemba, Issa Valigy Sungyahama, pointing proudly to her newly acquired business license that has been nicely framed and hung on the wall.
Pemba is one of the six Mozambican provincial capitals that have benefited from the establishment of One-Stop Shops, an initiative supported by the AfDB Public Sector Reform Project.
One-Stop-Shops are administrative service centres that gather all concerned governmental departments under the same building, enabling entrepreneurs to register and obtain licenses for their companies in one single location.
“Streamlining administrative procedures through the establishment of One-Stop-Shops has greatly reduced time, transaction costs and duplication for both citizens and government”, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Public Reforms, Mr. Eduardo Nhampossa, says.
Obtaining a business license was a daunting challenge for most businessmen in Mozambique before 2005. An entrepreneur looking to start a business had to register in numerous agencies, a process that required completing 18 different procedures and it took up to three months. Now it can take only 24 hours for small businesses.
“The latest decision by the government to let these centers grant licenses to micro-business (licenciamento simplificado) has drastically reduced the time and procedures involved,” the Executive Director of the one-stop shop in the town of Matola, João David Zatinta, says. Under this simplified regime, business with minor adverse impacts to the environment, public health and security can now obtain their licenses in just a few hours. This was been made possible thanks to measures introduced by the decree as well as the computerization of procedures. “This has also increased the number of citizens seeking the services of the OSS five-fold since March 2009” he adds.
These centres also provide other services to citizens such as issuing national identity cards, passports as well as births, marriage and property certificates. They also offer tax and social security services, notary services, and emigration services.
The establishment of One Stop Shops is part of Mozambique’s 2000-2011 Global Strategy for Public Sector Reform and it comes on the heels of an initial piloting supported by UNIDO in the province of Cabo Delgado. However, it was not until the Bank’s approval of the project in 2005 that the Mozambican government took decisive measures to institutionalize the OSS.
“The Project came at a critical time,” Mr. Nhampossa says while speaking about the timeliness of the project to support Mozambique’s public reform process. The Bank currently support six OSS across the country by providing them with IT equipment, training staff and financing communication programmes.
As part of the same project, the Bank also supports the Government’s efforts to enhance professionalism in the public sector by financing training activities for public servants. As of June 2009, over 414 civil servants holding managerial position successfully completed the courses delivered by the Higher Institute of Public Administration.
"The project is line with the Bank’s Governance Strategy whose main trust is promoting an enabling business environment for private sector,” the AfDB sector manager in charge of the project, Carlos Santiso, said.
The latest Doing Business Report, which ranks countries on their “ease of doing business”, upgraded Mozambique by five positions. Much of the gains relate to the fast and reliable access to business registration and licensing procedures streamlined through the OSS.
While many challenges still remain, “the Bank’s ambition for the project is to be able to transform OSS beyond their current role as an entry point for citizens and become a driver of change to further simplify and reduce unnecessary procedures, and further contribute to making Mozambique an attractive place in which to invest," AfDB Project Task Manager, Emanuele Santi, says.
The AfDB and other development partners are fully supporting Mozambique’s 2000-2011 Global Strategy for Public Sector Reform which focuses on service delivery, decentralization, institutional restructuring, public sector professionalism, quality financial management and accountability, good governance and fighting corruption.