Three African countries top world bank reformers list

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Three African countries – Egypt, Ghana and Kenya – are among the 10 top economic reformers that are making it easier for investors to do business in their countries, with Egypt leading the 178 countries surveyed, according to the World Bank 2008 Doing Business report.

“The data for this report is obtained from the institutions and actors themselves. We make use of local hands trained for the survey. All the data were collected by local people, it is insulated from political interference and it is an independent report,” the World Bank Senior Economist for African region, Steve R. Dimitriyev, said in Lagos during the presentation of the report.

‘Doing Business 2008′ is the fifth in a series of annual reports investigating the regulations that enhance business activity and those that act as impediments.

Indicators such as starting a business, dealing with licenses, employing workers, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and closing a business are used to measured the performance of countries surveyed.

Egypt is topping the list for the first time, but Ghana is making it among the top reformers for the second year running, indicating consistency and improvement in policy implementation.

Nigeria is placed 108 out of 178 economies, raising questions on its various economic reforms.

“Egypt, the top reformer in the region and worldwide, greatly improved its position in the global ranks on the ease of Doing Business. Its reforms went deep. Egypt cut the minimum capital required to start a business from 50,000 Egyptian pounds to just 1,000 and halved the time and cost of start-up,” the report said.

Reviewing the report from the operators perspective, President of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Ike Abugu, expressed delight that African countries are making progress in economic reforms, but regretted that Nigeria had not improved on its ratings.

“It is very heartwarming that these African countries are making it easier to do business in their countries. What this really means is that more jobs will be created, poverty will be reduced and the environment conducive for investors. Unfortunately Nigeria is nowhere near these countries,” he said.

Abugu urged the relevant authorities to see the report as a wake-up call and work toward removing impediments to doing business in Nigeria.

According to the report, it takes 82 days and 22% of the value of property to register a property in Nigeria, compared with what obtains in Egypt where it reduces fees for registering property from 3% of the property value to low, fixed amounts.

Also reviewing the report, Chief Economist with the African Finance Corporation (AFC), Temitope Oshikoya, wants Nigeria to do more if it hopes to be among the top 20 economies by 2020, by providing the conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

“The report is very clear, Nigeria has to accelerate its tax reform regime, providing good atmosphere for starting a business, law enforcements and registration of property,” Oshikoya said.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mansur Ahmed, stressed the need for the regulators, operators, investors and policy makers to study the report and act appropriately.

“We all need to carefully study the report so that we can work towards improving on our ratings. I think this should be the challenge before us,’ he said.

The survey covers 178 economies, 46 of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Panapress.

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