Nigeria rises 15 places to 131 in World Bank Business ranking

By Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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Nigeria has moved up 15 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking.

The World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Index (DBI), released on Thursday, ranked Nigeria 131 out of 190 countries from 146 position last year.

The report  also named Nigeria one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world for the second time in three years.

Making prestigious list
In a statement signed by Special Adviser to the President, Ease of Doing Business, Jumoke Oduwole, Nigeria is one of only two African countries to make the highly prestigious list.

“With this year’s leap, Nigeria has improved an aggregate of 39 places in the World Bank Doing Business index since 2016,” Oduwole stated.

The Doing Business Index is an annual ranking that objectively assesses prevailing business climate conditions across 190 countries based on 10 ease of doing business indicators.

The index captures ease of doing business reforms that have been validated by the private sector, and offers comparative insights based on private sector validation in the two largest commercial cities in countries with a population higher than 100 million.

The report consequently features Lagos and Kano for Nigeria.

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, chaired by the Vice President, with 13 Ministers as members amongst others, has through the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat collaborated with ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), the National Assembly, the Judiciary, State governments and the private sector to carry out over 140 reforms. The essence is to remove bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria and make the country a progressively easier place to start and grow a business.

Oduwole said; “the report acknowledges reforms spearheaded by the PEBEC in the areas of operationalising a new electronic platform that integrates the tax authority and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“It also acknowledges reforms carried out in some of the World Bank Doing Business indicator areas such as starting a business, registering property, getting construction permits, getting electricity, enforcing contracts, and trading across borders.”

Electronic platform
According to Oduwole, the Corporate Affairs Comssion, CAC, upgraded its name reservation platform and in Kano, there is now an electronic platform for registering business premises online, eliminating the need to appear in person.

She said similar reform had also taken place in Lagos, where land administration was made more transparent following the digitisation of cadastral plans in a geographic information system, making digital copies of cadastral plans easily obtainable.

“Nigeria made getting electricity easier by allowing certified engineers to conduct inspections for new connections.

“Initiatives made commercial litigation of smaller cases more efficient. The Chief Judges in Lagos and Kano issued practice directions for small claims courts introducing pre-trial conferences and limit adjournments.

“Finally, customs integrated more agencies into its electronic data interchange system, and port authorities launched an e-payment system, speeding up both exports and imports,” Oduwole explained.

She noted that the movement of 15 places to 131 as well as the recognition being given to Nigeria as one of the top 10 most improved countries, who have implemented the most reforms this year, was significant because the country has not even achieved some of the key reforms the PEBEC had pursued, but has continued to be recognised.

“This validation confirms that our strategy is working and we will continue to push even harder to deliver more impactful reforms,” she stated.

“The private sector remains the fulcrum of the ease of doing business interventions. We are committed to more engagement between reform-implementing organs of government and the private sector players and we are happy to see that this has resulted in a more favourable validation of the reforms by the private sector. This result will serve as encouragement to sustain the deepening of these reforms and make it even more tangible for businesses and the citizenry. The PEBEC is focused on delivering even more substantive reforms for the improvement of the general business climate,” she further stated.

Over the past four years, Nigeria’s score has steadily improved in the World Bank Doing Business Report, after years of decline in both score and ranking in the years preceding 2016.

In 2017, Nigeria moved up by an unprecedented 24 places on the Doing Business rankings, and was for the first time ever, recognised as one of the top 10 reformers in the area of doing business that year.

Oduwole hoped that with the expected amendment of the Companies and Allied Matters Bill and the introduction of the Business Facilitation (Omnibus) Bill, 2019, along with other pending and ongoing regulatory, judicial and sub-national reforms, Nigeria is poised to meet its goal of being a top 100 ranked economy by 2020.

“The announcement indicates that our mandate to move into the top 70 doing business destinations by 2023 remains achievable,” she added.

 

Mercy Chukwudiebere