For the first time, Nigeria has been recognized as one of the world’s top 10 “most improved” economies. This is according to the World Bank, on Tuesday, released its 2018 report on the ease of Doing Business.
The Doing Business rankings have, over the years, become a reference index by which a country’s environment for opening and running a business is deemed as favourable or unfavourable. The index takes into account “aspects of business regulation and their implications for firm establishment and operations”, according to the Overview of the report.
Until now, Nigeria has been regularly ranked along the bottom 20 countries in the world, usually around crisis-ridden nations like Syria, Yemen and Bangladesh. The jump by 24 places, from 169 to 145 (out of 190), could be a testament to the Buhari administration’s particular prioritization of improving business conditions within the country. The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) was set up specifically to make it easier for businesses to be registered and optimally operational within the country. Issues around visa processing for those who wish to come into the country have also been made easier over the past year, with the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES) in charge.
Central to the idea of the Doing Business with ease are the rules guiding the opening of a business. The more “accessible, transparent and predictable” these are, the easier it would be for start-ups to properly gauge what they are going into before venturing. The clearer the rules and lesser the stress involved in business registration, the more inclined people will be to start a business.
By working to make business name registration and the obtaining of the Tax Identification Number (TIN) possible online and within a day, the PEBEC achieved a feat which has positively influenced Doing Business in the country. Visa processing now reportedly take no more than 48 hours, even if there are still challenges experienced by some persons.
Other major indicators for measuring the ease of Doing Business include the ease of obtaining a building permit, accessing credit, getting an electricity connection, paying taxes and taking disputes to court. There are 11 indicator sets in all. In terms of access to credit, Nigeria is ranked 6th out of the 196 countries measured.
Nigeria’s improved rank to the 145th spot remains far behind other African countries like Mauritius (25), Rwanda (41), Morocco (69), Kenya (80) and Botswana (81). South Africa, Zambia, Tunisia, Seychelles, Namibia, Uganda, Egypt, Tanzania, Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali and Niger all rank above Nigeria. New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark are the top three. The United States and United Kingdom are ranked at numbers 6 and 7 respectively.
Perhaps ironically, Nigeria’s ability to initiate reform in Doing Business may be credited to the two year recession, with the report suggesting that “economies are more likely to implement regulatory reforms in the areas measured by Doing Business when there is fiscal distress”.
The Ease of Business drive has been led by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Jumoke Oduwole (pictured). She is a Unilag, Cambridge and Stanford trained expert and teacher in commercial law, international trade and development. Ms Oduowle’s team has been praised by most commentators for the Government’s latest achievement. On her Wednesday morning appearance on Channels TV’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, she pledged that they would not be resting on the laurels, encouraging Nigerians to demand their rights in terms of accessing the services of organisations involved in making their ability to run their businesses easier.
It is to be expected that the plans of the Government to make the business environment more conducive would be steadily improved upon, combining it with the general human capital development of the populace. Both measures working hand in glove should ensure that the businesses being developed in the country would stand the test of time, being internally and externally viable and competitive.
Feature image source: Prince Claus Chair (princeclauschair.nl)