Nigeria, as the biggest Economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, alongside others, have continued to improve their business climates, but needs to do more, the World Bank Group has said.
Specifically, the global institution advised that while reform efforts continued in many countries, much needs to be done on performance and ensuring the impact of the reforms.
In its Doing Business 2020, four of the most improved countries came from the Middle East and North Africa, while Nigeria joined others in the top 10, representing sub-Saharan Africa.
Nigeria’s efforts paid off, when it moved 15 places to 131 position in world rankings, just as the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) said it has recorded 140 reforms in three years.But the World Bank report noted that the pace of reforms in sub-Saharan Africa has slowed, and the region now lags other parts of the world in terms of reforms’ impact and implementation.
Economies of the region enacted 73 reforms, down from a record high of 108, and the number of countries implementing at least one reform fell to 31 from 40.Only two sub-Saharan African economies rank in the top 50 on the ease of doing business rankings, while most of the bottom 20 economies in the rankings are from the region.
The bank said that governments of 115 economies around the world launched 294 reforms over the past year to make doing business easier for their domestic private sector, paving the way for more jobs, expanded commercial activity, and higher incomes for many.“Governments can foster market-oriented development and broad-based growth by creating rules that help businesses launch, hire, and expand.
“Removing barriers facing entrepreneurs generates better jobs, more tax revenues, and higher incomes, all of which are necessary to reduce poverty and raise living standards,” World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said.The latest edition of the study, he noted, documents reforms implemented in 10 areas of business activity in 190 economies over a 12-month period ending May 1, 2019. He noted that business-friendly environments are associated with lower levels of poverty, and improved regulatory efficiency can stimulate entrepreneurship, startups, innovation, access to credit, and investment.
The study is the 17th in an annual series that evaluates regulations enhancing or constraining business activity for small and medium-size enterprises.
The 10 economies where business climates improved the most were Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, China, India, and Nigeria.
China and Togo appear among the top 10 for the second consecutive year, while India makes the list for the third consecutive year, indicating that business regulatory reform is a multi-year process.Bahrain implemented the highest number of reforms, improving in nine out of 10 areas measured by the report, followed by China and Saudi Arabia, with eight reforms each.
The 10 economies scoring the highest on the ease of doing business rankings were New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong SAR China, Denmark, Republic of Korea, United States, Georgia, United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden.
The top performers typically had online business incorporation processes, electronic tax filing platforms, and online procedures for property transfers.
Conversely, 26 economies took steps that posed new obstacles to business activity and many of these steps increased the costs of doing business.
Also, the report pointed out that it takes nearly six times as long, on average, to start a business in the economies ranked in the bottom 50 than in economies ranked in the top 20.
Transferring property in the 20 top economies requires less than two weeks, compared to three months in the bottom 50.Again, obtaining an electricity connection in an average bottom-50 economy takes twice as long as in an average top-20 economy and the cost of such a connection is 44 times higher when expressed as a per cent of income per capita.
The 10 areas measured in the report are starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit and protecting minority investors. Others are paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency.
One additional area, employing workers, is also measured but is not included in the rankings. Starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, and paying taxes were areas with the most active reform over this period.