Entrepreneurs in Uganda are expressing their concerns about the recent wave of company deregistration by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) and the challenges posed by the agency’s digitalization efforts.
URSB recently announced the deregistration of approximately 186,000 companies due to their failure to file annual returns for more than five years. Another 875 companies were previously deregistered for not providing solvency statements as required by Section 134(6) of the Companies Act 2012.
During a Stanbic Business Incubator Masterclass on company registration and compliance, an entrepreneur named Deogratius shared his experience, stating that one of his companies was deregistered even before reaching its fifth anniversary.
A list of 110,822 additional deregistered companies was posted on the URSB website in August, including some that had been registered for over 40 years and others that had last filed returns shortly after registration. Rachel Kamusiime, a Registration Officer at URSB, explained that some of these companies failed to include the recently introduced requirement for Beneficial Ownership (identifying the real owner of the company) in their returns.
URSB acknowledged challenges in its ongoing digitalization process, which have left businesspeople frustrated. The agency has been automating its services, including business registration and return filing, as part of the government’s broader effort to digitize all operations by 2040.
Entrepreneurs at the event expressed frustration with the automated system’s limitations. Deogratius questioned why the URSB’s automation system couldn’t offer a comprehensive “self-service” system, eliminating the need to visit offices or write application letters for tasks like updating personal codes or email addresses.
Another participant, Monalisa, voiced concerns that digitization had actually made URSB’s services more complicated. She explained that she had been trying for three months to correct details on her company profiles created using the digital registration service but had faced numerous obstacles, including the inability to rectify the issue of one of her companies sharing a name with another.
Monalisa also questioned the requirement for a postal address in a fully digitized process.
In response, Kamusiime acknowledged that digitization is an ongoing process and expressed her commitment to improvement, aligning with the government’s vision for 2040. She apologized for customer frustrations and stated that efforts to enhance the system, which began just six months ago, were underway.
The Stanbic Business Incubator Masterclass aimed to educate entrepreneurs about the importance of identifying and documenting beneficial owners within their business structures, regulatory requirements, and best compliance practices. It also sought to highlight the latest changes in URSB systems and how these updates could streamline registration and compliance processes for greater efficiency.