One Stop Shop for Government Business Services
Ministry of Commerce and Industry

The Problem

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) is responsible for the registration of commercial, industrial and mining activities and businesses in the Sultanate of Oman. However the manual registration procedures were complex involving many Directorates from within MOCI and approvals from other government organisations such as the Municipalities, Royal Oman Police, Ministry of Manpower, etc.

The lack of developed and modern electronic system to facilitate the inter-ministerial administrative works further aggravated the inefficient situations. Hence, due to complex workflow processes and bureaucratic red tapes, registration of a company may take several months before a commercial registration could be finalized.

Under the manual system, investors who wanted to set up a business would have to complete several registration forms manually. They would have to submit the completed forms together with many other supporting documents. Since, approvals for various types of related permits reside with other Ministry/Government Organisations, these made the process even longer and more tedious. Furthermore these approving authorities used their own internal databases, matching data entry and information became very cumbersome as different databases were used and there were lots of data duplication and errors.

In addition, the classifications of the businesses were not unified and standardised among all the ministries including the commercial licenses numbering. New documents were requested for registration of additional branches of an existing business resulting in duplications. There were no geographical classification for the Omani regions and governorates made accessible to all the governmental entities.

The investors registering their businesses had to visit different Ministries and Government Organisations which were time consuming and very inconvenience. There was no one single entity which the investors can go to and carry out all the necessary transaction for registering their businesses.

In the past, the investor had to wait for one month for the commercial registration application to be completed and had to visit each government entity separately in order to get the required approvals for the registration. In some cases, inspections have to be made before the issuance of the registration. In fact, the time required for each application in any concerned entity was two weeks minimum. As Oman is moving towards economic diversification with the Vision 2020 which emphasises on the shift from oil-based industries, it is crucial that a more efficient and effective way of registering commercial entities is implemented so as to attract foreign direct investment into the country.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The One Stop Shop (OSS) initiative for government business services was developed and implemented by MOCI in order to streamline business registration processes in the Sultanate. The initiative was implemented in collaboration with the following government entities.
a. Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources for municipal licences in the interior regions
b. Ministry of Manpower for processing of manpower clearance
c. Royal Oman Police (Directorate General of Passport & Residence and Directorate General of Civil Defense) for resident visa approval and HSE approval
d. Muscat Municipality For municipal licenses in Muscat Governorate
e. Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry for business membership registration

The OSS initiative was enabled by an IT-based architecture which is integrated with other government entities using web services for eApplication. Through the OSS system the commercial registration web services is also accessible electronically through the e.oman portal in which the relevant government entities can access companies commercial registration information as per their access level.

The system serves three different sectors:
a. Investor: easing of applying of business applications, getting approvals from different government entities.
b. Private sector: increase in the volume of Foreign Direct Investment after implementation of OSS.
c. Government: by exchange of information (Commercial Registration web Service) that is available in the system and auto approvals.

The automation of the commercial registration process through the OSS system allows registrations to be done not only in the Head Office in Muscat but also in MOCI regional offices in the interior regions. The registration process is now decentralised and outsourced to local entrepreneurship programme known as SANAD (Self-Employment and National Autonomous Development) offices as well as through the self-service Kiosk and registered Legal Services Offices. There are about 158 SANAD offices throughout the Sultanate. Through such offices, commercial applications and updates can be done online with point of sales ePayment solution. The provision of OSS services generated business opportunities to the local entrepreneurs. All required documents can be attached and submitted online as well. As an added service to the OSS solution, online authentication and certifications can also be done through integration to related government entities.

MOCI handled about 9k commercial registrations prior to the OSS initiative. However in 2011, MOCI handled and approved about 20k such registrations which are 122% more. Through the OSS initiative, about 128k applications were received and completed between Jun 2006 to Dec 2011. About 71% of these applications were processed and approved within 1 hour and the rest completed within 3 working days.

Oman also saw a 34% increased in foreign direction investment immediately after the implementation of OSS solution in Jun 2006 from OMR 320 millions (USD 826 millions) to OMR 430 millions (USD 1.1 billion).

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is the proposer and main implementer of the One Stop Shop Initiative. To be in sync with the initiative of eGovernment in Oman, MOCI contracted an international company GBM (Gulf Business Machines Co.) in February 2005 to design, execute and operate the infrastructure of the One Stop Shop.

The aim of this project is to utilize information technology as a tool to gathers the integrate the different entities involved in the One Stop Shop to work as one unit that provides the required approvals related to the commercial registration and industrial and mining licenses. By doing so, it will cut down the time and effort for investors when they are registering a business or government entities certifying or authenticating commercial activities.

Following are the stakeholders involved:
• Ministry of Commerce and Industry
• Information Technology Authority
• Ministry of Finance
• Ministry of National Economy
• Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industries
• Ministry of regional Municipalities and Water Resources
• Ministry of Manpower
• Royal Oman Police
• Muscat Municipality
• Dhofar Municipality

The Workflow is designed by: TATA Consultants Co. India
The system is developed by: Gulf Business Machines co. Oman

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The main objective of the OSS initiative was to provide citizens, entrepreneurs, prospective investors and businesses with quality services as well as effective information in a timely and efficient manner. This includes the following objectives which not only improves the services but also in a transparent and systematic manner.
 A faster and more efficient licensing and registration processes entailing a relatively shorter period of time.
 A single entry point for accessing government disseminated information and services online.
 Flexibility with respect to place, time and mode of interaction with the Government.
 Serve by providing easy and multi-channel access.
 A trustworthy safe environment where businesses can conduct secure transactions in confidence.
 Effective and efficient delivery of services in a 24/7 manner and over 365 days
• Bring the government closer to the people through multiple delivery channels such as PCs, Kiosks, telephones, and mobile phones.
• More transparent procedures and the customer should be able to track the status of his/her application.
• A mechanism for easy electronic fee payments.

The main strategies utilised were to streamline and re-engineer the registration and management processes within MOCI as well as in relations with other government entities before the processes were automated. MOCI optimised on the use of the latest technology to automate the processes and embedded more efficient workflows amongst the various departments in the ministry as well as other government entities. Other e.oman initiatives were also utilised such as the eGovernment portal and the ePayment gateway. Working in tandem with the Ministry of Manpower, the OSS also provides business opportunities for local enterprises under the SANAD programme through decentralising the application processes in the various SANAD centers through the Sultanate.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Phase 1
MOCI carried out business process re-engineering to streamline the commercial registration process and eliminated redundant and manual processes. This included the use of international standard and classifications as well as data cleaning to align to the international standards. In May 2006, the OSS portal was launched with 39 eServices dealing with CR (Commercial Registration) of businesses across Oman which is still used by the commercial establishments. The OSS solution streamlined the registration procedures to five easy stages:
• Entry of electronic application
• Issuance of the approval
• Receiving the payment documents
• Paying the fees
• Receiving the certificate
Phase 2
Launched in November 2007, additional services were added which includes Industrial records and licenses, Mining permits and licenses and refinement of commercial registration processes. In addition, integration of CR web services to other government entities was also implemented.
Phase 3
Enhancement to make all the services online accessible through self services at any time and place and transactions clearance offices such as SANAD Kiosk/ Law Firm/ Auditors Offices. All these offices will be connected to the One Stop Shop in order to facilitate the investors in applying through these offices. Currently, there are more than 160 offices including SANAD kiosks, Law Firms and Auditors already connected to the OSS system.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
1. Resistance to Change
MOCI employees were so used to doing the manual process; it was a great challenge to move them to an IT-enabled environment as they were not IT savvy. However with strong support from top management, all the staff were up skilled with IT training and given proper hardware and software to work with.
2. Business process re-engineering
The manual process was very cumbersome filled with many bureaucratic red tapes. A committee comprising all the Directorates in MOCI along with the rest of the government entities was formed to evaluate, reduce process and optimise the procedure for an IT-enabled environment. In addition, MOCI and GBM formed a task force to deal with issues in a daily high level meeting attended by Undersecretaries, and all the staff involved to discuss daily problems, solutions and action plan for the next day. Continuous training and awareness programs were initiated for the frontline staff and personnel involved in the operation and support of the system. To motivate the staff, special recognition and appreciation were introduced. To cope with the increase in the demand for the front office, additional staff were deployed when the demand for the OSS increases. To ensure that the integrity of the data, data cleaning effort was in place to tackle the problem immediately.

3. Upgrade the IT system
With an IT-enabled environment, the current IT infrastructure was not suitable to support the OSS system. Hence there was a need to upgrade the system with new infrastructure as well as increase bandwidth to support the rapid increase of the number of the transactions per month. With support from Ministry of Finance, budget was made available for the necessary upgrade.
4. Integration with other government entities
Problems with other entities- create an account for them from MOCI system, each gov entities can access the form the system and provide the approval online
5. Lack of regulations
The existing policies and regulations were suitable only for manual processes of commercial registration. MOCI had to change the regulations and procedures to meet the automation and digital authentication forms instead of manual hardcopy
6. Monitoring of online services
A set of key performance indicators (KPIs) for the eServices was also implemented to ensure the efficiency of the online services. These KPIs are part of the OSS initiative quality assurance process in order to ensure that the services rendered are efficient and effective.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Financial Cost

The OSS system was first developed at the cost of about 3 million OMR (7 million USD) in 2006 and was subsequently upgraded regularly. The total cost till date for the system with all the upgrades was about 5 million OMR (13 million USD).

The technical architecture is based on Open-source J2E platform using Web sphere applications server. It is supported by Database Oracle and DB2. It is developed as a web-based application with a supporting web management system. Currently, the OSS infrastructure is being migrated to use cloud computing technology and Disaster Recovery site is being built.


The OSS system is managed by the IT Department comprising 40 personnel supported by specialised ICT companies.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
This OSS initiative is sustainable as Oman strives to meet the Vision 2020 objectives with the mega economic development projects from airport constructions, seaport constructions and development of new industrial free trade zones in various parts of the country, it is essential that government processes transformed to an investor-friendly environment. With rapid economic development, there will be increasing inflow of foreign investments. Companies, especially the Multinationals will require hassle free and quick services while at the same time without high expenditure.

MOCI leverages on ICT to enable its organisation and transform its services to meet the needs of the investors and government entities. Through the OSS system, bureaucratic red tapes are eradicated and information exchanges with the rest of the government entities flow seamlessly. This seamless flow of information enabled the other government entities to enhance their G2G, G2B and G2C services as a whole, thus promoting whole-of-government approaches in the information age.

The financial investment to this initiative contributed positively in the generation of FDIs into Oman. The results of applying this initiative is clear as there is an increase in the number of application received which reached about 20k applications per year as of last audit. The registration fees also constituted an additional income to the Government and return of investment for this initiative.

Socially, there is an interconnection between the system and its users as they gain new technical knowledge and are exposed to the electronic alternatives in order to process their transactions. A very clear example for this interaction is the increasing number of users of the system. MOCI handled about 9k commercial registrations prior to the OSS initiative. However in 2011, MOCI handled and approved about 20k such registrations which are 122% more.

Electronic transaction is the key to empower the businesses, investors, citizens and government entities. The OSS initiative is also transferable to other government agencies providing G2G services. Through integrated online processes, all the stakeholders and target users are able to interact, communicate, transact and contribute in a knowledge-based economy.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The initiative is successful as it facilitates the interaction between the investor and the Ministry. By using the electronic system, the investors can process the transactions easily and securely online through the internet and the applications now can be finalized in several working days. Also, the investor receives feedback through SMS and emails about the status of the application.

1. Increased in number of transactions
MOCI handled about 9k commercial registrations prior to the OSS initiative. However in 2011, MOCI handled and approved about 20k such registrations which are 122% more.

2. Increased in government revenue
In 2012, the OSS generated about 12 million OMR (USD 31 million) of revenue from commercial registration activities. This is an increased of about 600% as compared to about 1.7 million OMR (USD4.4 million).

3. Reduction in process time
Through the OSS initiative, about 128k applications were received and completed from Jun 2006 to Dec 2011. About 71% of these applications were processed and approved within 1 hour and the rest completed within 3 working days. This is a reduction from 1 month or 4 weeks to only 1 working day on average.

4. Increased in Foreign Direct Investment
Oman also saw a 34% increased in foreign direction investment immediately after the implementation of OSS solution in Jun 2006 from OMR 320 millions (USD 826 millions) to OMR 430 millions (USD 1.1 billion).

5. Business opportunities through SANAD offices/kiosk
As of Jul 2012, there are a total of 158 SANAD offices operated by the local entrepreneurs throughout the Sultanate. SANAD programme is a government initiative to enable Omanis to start their own thriving businesses. The OSS solution provided the services for these entrepreneurs to springboard into other businesses. Til Jul 2012, these offices had received and completed about 55k applications.

6. Improvement in International Ranking
The most significant impact of the OSS initiative is Oman’s appeal to international investments and businesses. In 2011, the Sultanate was ranked 3rd place in the Middle East in enabling international commerce by World Economical Forum and was published in their web site. Overall, the Sultanate ranked 29th place and achieved 4.71 points and advanced 5 ranks from 2009 classification (34th place).

Lessons Learnt

1. Support from the top management is critical so as to ensure the smooth implementation of the OSS system. Their knowledge and importance of the ICT helped drove the initiative forward and helped in reducing resistance.
2. Business process re-engineering is another important step that must be taken before embarking on automation and electronic processes.
3. A Phrasal approach is preferred as through small targeted implementation, issues could be addressed immediately and lessons learnt can be used to enhance the system in the next phase.
4. Quality feedback from users is another important lesson learnt. Such feedback helped in enhancing the OSS eServices

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Ayman Ba Hajjaj
Title:   Information Systems Development Section Head  
Telephone/ Fax:   +968 95056372
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:  
Country:   Oman

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