NEW CIPC WEBSITE: Does It Work Or?

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) says it is encouraged with the response it has received on its new look website which was launched on 17 September. The announcement comes when the Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday said that the website was not working.

Visitors to the new CIPC website on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 were met with a notice; "CIPC is currently effecting some changes to improve the website performance. The following services will be affected until 15h00 today: New company registrations, director changes and member changes. Dedicated mailbox for company name change; [email protected] View customer notices - Companies and CC."

On Monday, the Commission said that; “This is a new website and a number of enquiries are attributable to clients being new to the site. However, there have also been some system challenges and CIPC has worked around the clock to sort out any problems.”

The website has introduced new online transacting services, including a new company registration system, a new name reservation system, a new director and member change system and new systems for company and close corporation address and financial year-end changes.

A large volume of transactions has been received by the CIPC. The CIPC received 11 758 company registrations; 2 637 address changes; 23 668 annual returns; 421 financial year-end changes and 8 406 name reservations.

The CIPC implemented a query logging system with its new website. The full turnaround time for these queries, including escalation, is 10 working days.

However, the CIPC website is not working says the DA 

“Users are reporting that they have been unable to register new businesses online since the site launched, as it freezes as soon as new applications are submitted. Similarly, the submission process for company annual returns, and company name applications works only intermittently,” said Geordin Hill-Lewis, DA Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry.

“The website’s non-performance has not only resulted in extended call times and queues but adds to difficulty in starting a business in South Africa, making it harder to provide jobs to millions of unemployed.

“The DA has received hundreds of complaints in the last few days from frustrated entrepreneurs, accountants and small business service providers who cannot access any CIPC services via the new website.”

He said that he would write to the Commissioner of the CIPC, Ms Astrid Ludin, and Minister Rob Davies, to request that the CIPC take urgent interim steps to ensure that service is restored immediately.

“At the very least, I believe that all CIPC offices and staff, including the national call centre, should work longer hours until the online service is restored and the backlog is dealt with. The CIPC should also explain why the website was not sufficiently tested before it went live,” said Hill-Lewis.

“With the website down, a number of important functions are not accessible. Critically, new businesses can’t be registered online. This means new business registrations can only be done manually – a process which still takes several weeks. And with the CIPC call centre only answering 31% of calls (according to its own annual report), entrepreneurs are left with no other way of contacting the Commission and getting the responses they need to begin trading.”

He said last week Commissioner Ludin appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry and presented the website launch as a major improvement in the slow and unresponsive service for which the CIPC has been known in the past.

“The DA welcomes the move to a greater use of technology in delivering critical services. But the new website should have been thoroughly tested before going live. Service delivery standards at the CIPC have traditionally been unacceptably slow, and this website shut-down will only further increase the backlog of companies trying to register at the CIPC,” Hill-Lewis said.

Queries solved

To date, the CIPC has received close to 2 000 queries on the new system, for which tickets have been issued and 10% of the queries have been solved, it said adding that some clients are logging the same query several times, which creates bottlenecks. It urged the public to log each query only once.

“The CIPC acknowledges that there appear to be problems with slow response times on director changes and company registration,” said CIPC.

To deal with this, the CIPC has put in place a number of changes over the past two weeks, including increasing the bandwidth that it has and most recently, increasing the storage and memory on its infrastructure.

The CIPC also acknowledged that there have been problems with the allocation of funds to customer accounts, which has constrained clients, and notably intermediaries, from transacting on the website.

A system change was effected on 23 September 2014, which affected the automated allocation. The problem has since been corrected.

Photo caption: Visitors to the new CIPC website on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 were met with this notice; "CIPC is currently effecting some changes to improve the website performance. The following services will be affected until 15h00 today: New company registrations, director changes and member changes. Dedicated mailbox for company name change; [email protected] View customer notices - Companies and CC."