The Corporate Affairs Commission has only just, with its new online launch, incorporated a new philosophy: Don`t come to us, we will come to you, but the Corporate Affairs Commission harks back to 1990 when it was established by the Companies and Allied Matters Act designed to regulate the formation and management of companies in Nigeria.
CAC was principally put in place as an autonomous body to counteract the perceived inefficiency of the former Company Registry, a department within the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Tourism which was then responsible for the registration and administration of the repealed Companies Act of 1968.
CAC allows foreign companies who want to do business in Nigeria to apply for exemption from registration, especially those involved in special projects. In this context, foreign nationals may undertake any type of business and own 100 percent equity in Nigeria apart from those branches listed on the banned list such as arms production, narcotics and related prohibited substances. In the spirit of liberalisation in Nigeria, foreign nationals not resident in the country, do not require permits before establishing businesses or investing in Nigeria. However, those foreigners living in the country need a residence permit before being able to form a company.
In a move to create an even more efficient and effective companies registry, Nigeria`s President Olusegun Obasanjo recently launched Corporate Affairs Commission Online at the company`s head office in Abuja. With the new philosophy, Don`t come to us, we come to you, the big plus is that aspiring business owners can now access CAC`s services online without having to appear in person at CAC headquarters. In his address to mark the launch, Mr. Obasanjo highlighted CAC`s new enterprise and the effects it would have on improving service delivery, transparency, accountability and efficiency, which as he put it, are all important yardsticks on how well an economy is performing.
CAC online effectively abolishes bureaucratic and cumbersome procedural processes that usually go hand-in-hand with corporate registration and documentation. Payment for CAC services is made very convenient through electronic registration via credit card.
The new online service also enhances information services and will provide quality service delivery based on a coherent and user-friendly information management system. Data generation and classification will be made easier and more efficient. All these assets look set to be hugely beneficial to Nigeria's economy thanks to the effectiveness of resource allocation, increased productivity and the optimal use of capacities. So far, dating from 1912, there are records of over 600,000 Companies, 1.5 million Business Names and 24,000 Incorporated Trustees. It's also hoped that CAC online will help to provide more transparency and reduce misuse and fraud to a mere minimum. To that end, the credentials of local and foreign business partners can now be checked and verified from any location around the world, which should ultimately lead to a boost in investor confidence from abroad and promote better international relations. Furthermore, the Commission intends to commence the process of International Standard Organization (I.S.O) Certification before the end of 2005. It is hoped that actual certification will be achieved by 2007. Concerns that many Nigerians are computer illiterate have been allayed by the news that the Commission will launch a nation-wide training campaign at a number of centres where people can learn quickly and efficiently how to use the CAC`s online services.
Summing up, CAC online has all the right ingredients to be a highly successful venture, one that sets the parameters for how Nigerian business enterprises can be run efficiently and successfully. The new set-up should provide an overall boost to the Nigerian economy, making it attractive to foreign investment and putting the country on the map of networked globalisation.