Kenya is edging closer to launching an online business directory and information pool that profiles all businesses operating in various sectors of the economy.
 
The move comes at a time when the country has performed dismally in global and regional cost of doing business indices, which have blamed bureaucratic and time consuming procedures of starting a company as responsible for discouraging prospective investors.
 
For example, a new firm spends about 40.4% of its annual income to set up operations in Kenya compared to just 4.3% in neighbouring Rwanda, according to the World Bank.
 

A local Kenyan firm also has to wait for 73 days to get its property registered and spends about 340 hours every year to get documents and clearance from the tax man.
 
This in sharp contrast to Rwanda, the region's top performer in the World Bank indicator, where it only takes 25 days for a business to register property and 164 hours to clear taxes.
 
Alive to the many opportunities that the country is missing out on owing to red tape, the Kenya ICT Board, has partnered with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to collect information and profile all businesses into various categories.
 
The data then is planned to be presented online so that businesses can save the outlays of conducting research when starting different ventures.
 
“We want our business people to have a one stop shop on other businesses that will aid them in making decisions which will then save them research costs,” said Kenya ICT Board Paul Kukubo.
 
The online directory, expected before year end, is also planned to map out areas of the economy that are under represented by businesses, in order to give potential investors a wide array of investment options while avoiding a market saturation situation.
 
“What has been happening in the country is that getting market data on exactly which companies are registered in which sector of the economy and their performance has been near impossible and the wait is unbearably long,” said Athanus Muturi from the Kenya Institute of Public Policy and Research, KIPPRA.
 
“Yet this is the kind of information that should be readily available, especially if we are to open our country to investors. This new portal means that within a day or two an investor is armed with adequate information on investment options at little or no cost,” added Muturi.

Originally published on 31 January 2013 by Bob Koigi (ITWeb Africa)