World Bank’s 2010 doing business index: Ghana can do better!

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Ghana sadly slipped five places from (the 87th position to 92nd, losing 5 places) in the World Bank’s 2010 doing business index. The index has become a much respected measure of which countries are making progress towards making their countries business friendly.

Except in three areas, we went back in almost all the indexes. This indicates that we have become a less attractive destination to investors. International investor, Mr. Mark Davies, founder of Busy Internet recently asserted that the World Bank Doing Business Report was a reference point for his decision to come and invest in Ghana some years ago.

What is particularly worrying is that we were beaten by countries emerging from war, like Rwanda (no. 67) and Serbia (no. 88). Some may say they are coming from a very low point, but that is not exactly accurate, these countries have been stable for a while, and are working (just as we are) on their investment climate, but Ghana has had more time and stability to do better. This is a competition for investment, and it is a zero sum game, the more others get, the less you get.

We need to take a deep hard look at what we are doing wrong and get our act together before long. Ghana’s economy runs on about 5,000 companies (from large to small). Making life easier for 5,000 companies in the land size of Ghana with a population of 23 million people is not an impossible task. We must get it right.

Contrary to what we like to believe, a hard look will show that our problems are not too tough to crack. Ghana has great people at all levels of society, we don’t have the debilitating wars that have crippled our neighbours, we have twelve months of sunshine, no hurricanes, no tornadoes, no earthquakes, no snow and blizzards, even our harmattan wildfires are mild, compared to that of California. So what prevents us from getting our heads together and dealing with the issues that confront us, and opening up the space for businesses to do business, employ our people, improve our lives, and realize the greatness in our destiny.

The statistics for the index are collected from credible independent sources, usually existing businesses operating locally. It means how a country treats its current companies and investor is crucial in determining how well it will do in attracting more investment. It is thus a ‘no brainer’ to derive that, it is near futile to embark on investment promotion ventures and trips out of country without ensuring that the current crop of investors at home, both local and foreign are well taken care of, and obstacles removed from their way.

We urge our leaders to give a thought to doing things right. Our problems are not insurmountable, let us believe in ourselves and get to work. To be fair, some of the information in the report is a bit too flattering and others too critical, but by and large this is a good picture of what we are. Our response must not be to dismiss it and just go off.

The authors are affiliated with IMANI and African Liberty. Mr. Bentil is also a fellow African Leadership Initiative.

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