LONDON: Afghanistan currently ranks at number 167 at the World Bank Ease of Doing Business index for 2019, a slight improvement from its rank at 183 in 2018 but not good enough to change the destiny of the nation.
Afghanistan faces one of the worst rates of poverty, unemployment and economic dependence on foreign aid, which is seen by many, at times, as undermining the nation’s economic and national sovereignty.
Therefore, the only option and the best way is to make doing business in Afghanistan easy, freeing the nation from poverty and turning it into an innovative startup hub in the heart of Asia, creating jobs, opportunities and hope for all.
The Afghanistan Enterprise Council and the European Institute For Afghanistan Studies have come up with 3 simple steps that will not only improve Afghanistan’s global business ranking but also boost entrepreneurship in the country.
The 3 simple steps to make doing business easy:
1. MAKE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ONLINE
The most basic thing a nation can do in the modern tech savvy world is to make all information regarding company registration online.
Company registration forms and fees must be on every department tasked with business and ministry of commerce’s website and social media before the profile of the minister.
Finding the exact fees or application forms for something as simple as setting up a limited liability company is a major struggle when it comes to Afghanistan. Most government websites in Afghanistan for business registration are usually down, sometimes infected and mostly full of news articles about government officials, looking more like news sites than making business easy.
The information on fees and company registration can be automated and made digital very easily, where entrepreneurs can come, answer a few questions and get an answer on the cost of company registration and link to the right application form.
In Estonia, around 99% of public services are available to citizens as e-services but in Afghanistan making business registration will be an important big step.
2. KEEP COMPANY REGISTRATION FEES UNDER $10
Afghanistan is one of the poorest nations on earth. Yet company registration in the country is one of the most expensive. A few years ago, registering a consultancy startup could cost you around $2000. The same startup would cost an entrepreneur £12 in United Kingdom, one of the world’s richest nations.
Similarly a simple trading licence for a small agricultural exporter could cost $300, even if it meant that he would export less than a $100 worth of potatoes to a neighbouring country. The result? Total let down of entrepreneurs and a rise of the black market.
Startup registration fees were brought down recently but that is not enough. In Afghanistan, entrepreneurship should be seen more significant than the natural resources of the country and making Afghanistan an enterprising nation a national priority.
We believe that sole trader or sole proprietorship licence should cost no more than $5 and a limited liability startup company licence no more than $10. Licence renewal should be online and within the same fee range.
3. MAKE COMPANY REGISTRATION DIGITAL AND WITHIN 48 HOURS
In United Kingdom, a company can be registered in 24 hours. In Estonia, you can pay your taxes digitally in 18 minutes, open a bank account with a click and get an E-citizenship of the country regardless of where on earth you live.
Unfortunately in Afghanistan that is not the case when it comes to company registrations. Printing physical applications, getting copies of countless supporting documents and waiting in never ending lines kill the spirit of an entrepreneur, and the idea of an innovative nation.
Instead people should be able to fill an application online, upload their ID documents through mobile or website, pay fees in a bank and just turn up for an appointment of a few minutes to verify everything, and receive their company licence printed as soon as the verification process is confirmed.
The need for an office lease or rent agreement should be abandoned. It is the most foolish and irrelevant piece of requirement of modern times.