The lockdown in April saw a significant drop in business registrations at the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA). Whereas BIPA normally registers more than a thousand businesses a month, the months of April and May 2020, saw only 133 and 261 registrations, respectively.
However, the picture turned rosier in June 2020, when 1 064 businesses were registered. This however stands in contrast to the 1 458 businesses that were registered in July 2019. For the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, BIPA registered 11 691 businesses, the bulk being CCs (7 442) and Defensive Names (3 287).
During lockdown, the Authority was forced to roll out its on-line services, despite the platform not being fully functional. This was done to assist clients to continue submitting applications, even if they were not able to leave their homes. From April to July 2020, the authority processed 2 217 applications that were received directly to its offices, and 135 which was received online. This is a total of 2 352 applications that were processed from the 11 970 that were submitted.
According to BIPA, the backlog was caused by numerous system errors and power outages, which hampered the authority’s ability to attend to applications and queries in a timely manner. This led to BIPA announcing a three-week delay in its processing in July.
Notably, there was a marked increase in the number of business registrations for companies (PTYs) in December 2019 when 119 companies were registered. Furthermore, business registrations for CCs spiked in October 2019 with 904 registrations, and again in March 2020 with 839 registrations.
Currently, BIPA has a total of 187 064 active businesses registered on its system. 81% of these are CCs and 12.6% are companies. Defensive Names account for 5%, Section 21 companies for 1.1% and Foreign Companies for 0.2% of the total.
Shortly before lockdown, BIPA deregistered 198 businesses for the period, January to March 2020. This includes 144 CCs, 50 companies, 3 Section 21 Companies and 1 Foreign Company. As at 15 July 2020, 145 requests for deregistration were still pending. Turnaround times for service delivery for the period January to March 2020, indicated that Companies and Section 21 Companies took on average 12 days to register, 11 days to obtain a founding statement, 9 days to register a Defensive Name, 8 days to reserve a name for CCs and 8 days to reserve a company name. The number of files requested by clients for amendments from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, amounted to 98 114. Currently it takes 3 days for files to be made available to clients. The public is also advised that BIPA is now in the process of transferring 175 106 physical files for CC’s, PTYs, Section 21s and Foreign Companies to its electronic system. BIPA managed to capture 36 462 files thus far which are available as soft copies. Having all data and documents available electronically, will, once the project is complete, significantly reduce turnaround times for service delivery. It will furthermore permit the authority to distribute documents to its clients electronically, instead of clients having to physically collect their documents from the BIPA offices. It will further ease the application process for clients in the regions, who will be able to access their files via the online platform.
Currently, the authority serves between 200 to 300 clients daily at its head office in Windhoek. The offices at Swakopmund are also open for clients.