A new World Bank report reveals that Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) had the highest number of business regulatory reforms in 2013/14 with 74 percent of the region’s economies improving their business regulatory environment for local entrepreneurs.
Released on Wednesday, the report “ Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency” finds that Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Togo are among the 10 top improvers worldwide, having improved business regulation the most in the past year among the 189 economies covered.
It said all countries in the region have improved the business regulatory environment for small and medium-size businesses since 2005 with Rwanda implementing the most reforms followed by Mauritius and Sierra Leone.
The report shows that over the past five years, 11 SSA countries have appeared on the annual list of the 10 global top improvers. Some have done so multiple times such as Burundi, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire and Rwanda.
Melissa Johns, Advisor, Global Indicators Group, Development Economics, World Bank Group said “Sub-Saharan African economies have come a long way in reducing burdensome business regulations.”
“Our data show that Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for the largest number of regulatory reforms making it easier to do business in the past year, with 75 of the 230 documented worldwide. Yet despite broad regulatory reform agendas, challenges persist in the region, where business incorporation continues to be costlier and more complex on average than in any other region,” she said.
The report finds that Senegal implemented regulatory reforms in six of the 10 key areas tracked by Doing Business, a global high for the year. Senegal is gradually narrowing the gap with best practices seen elsewhere.
For example, in 2005completing every official procedure to import goods from overseas took 27 days. Today it takes 14 days, the same as in Poland.
This year, for the first time, Doing Business collected data for a second city in the 11 economies with a population of more than 100 million. In Nigeria, the report analysed business regulations in Kano as well as in Lagos.
Ghana made dealing with construction permits less time-consuming by streamlining the process to obtain a building permit. And it made trading across borders easier by upgrading infrastructure at the port of Tema.
In areas of business regulatory reform, it improved in dealing with construction permits, trading across borders and ranked 70 in the ease of doing business.
The report this year also expands the data for three of the 10 topics covered, and there are plans to do so for five more topics next year. In addition, the ease of doing business ranking is now based on the distance to frontier score. This measure shows how close each economy is to global best practices in business regulation. A higher score indicates a more efficient business environment and stronger legal institutions.
The report finds that Singapore tops the global ranking on the ease of doing business.
Joining it on the list of the top 10 economies with the most business-friendly regulatory environments are New Zealand; Hong Kong, China; Denmark; the Republic of Korea; Norway; the United States; the United Kingdom; Finland; and Australia.