Did you know that you can now get a number of Government services online through the eCitizen portal? Here is my experience with the system.
If you’re planning to start a business or have a business idea, it is important that you come up with and reserve the name as a matter of priority lest someone else registers it and runs away with it. The first step towards this is to do a name search with the Company Registrar. My mission for the day was to search for a name in the meantime as I look for ways to go ahead and register it.
I had already registered into the eCitizen system earlier. Registration is a very short and easy process which takes only about 5 minutes. With just an ID number and first name, the site already recognizes the user and brings out an old pre-existing passport photo – the one used to register for ID years ago. Further into the process though, there is an option to change that to a more recent photo.
Registration features a 2 step verification process. The first is email where they send a link to the email you’ll have provided, and the second is via SMS where they send a code to your phone. I felt that this is a secure system and it would be difficult for anything to go wrong as far as authentication is concerned. After that short registration process, I was officially into the system where I could go through the services and pick the one that I was interested in.
I had a small setback because by the time I came to actually get the name search service and pay for it, I had forgotten my password. The recovery process for this however is quite simple and fast. I was asked to either opt to receive a re-set code via text or e-mail. I opted for text and a code was quickly sent to my phone and I was able to log in.
As many who have been through this process will remember, Business Name Search before automation was a tedious and complicated process that was a put off to the ordinary citizens. It started by writing a letter to the company registrar and physically taking it to their offices. You needed to reserve 3 names in order of priority and in the event that your first choice had already been taken, the registrar would give you the second one, or the third if the second one too was gone. This process was so frustrating that one would often need either a lawyer or someone who has learned the ropes over years to help them with the otherwise very simple process.
In the new system, I was able to simply feed in the name of the business I wanted to register, give a brief description of the same and submit. The charge per name on the system is Kshs.150/-
Once I was in the system, the first thing was to choose a category under which my requirements would fall, in this case Office of The Attorney General and Department of Justice. The services under each category are clearly listed under the respective titles.
The first option after I picked my category was to ‘submit application’ which could at first be confusing as it implies that there is an existing application. What they mean however is that you click that and start the application process.
The last step of the business name search process is payment via Mpesa, and after paying, an e-mail is immediately sent to the email you provided when registering. To this end, make sure you provide a working email address to start with. The email will acknowledge your submission and inform you that you’ll be notified shortly of the outcome.
You will also be able to see your submission summary.
You will need a good internet connection because if data is lost in between failed connections, you’ll have the extra work of filling the forms again. This is very little work not a happy process all the same.
UPDATE 5.31 pm: My name search failed and it seems I’ll be going through the process again.
“The name you searched has been rejected because it was deemed unappropriated or was already taken. Please read the name search guide for more information. Best regards, eCitizen Team”