The Doing Business 2014 Report was published by the World Bank on the 29 of October 2013, with assistance from 10 200 experts from 189 states. This report focuses on understanding regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises (SMEs), especially regulations affecting domestic firms in 189 economies and classifies the economies in 10 sectors of business regulation, such as commencing a business, resolving insolvency and trading across borders. The 2014 report which is the11th edition of the Doing Business series, covers regulations measured from June 2012 up to May 2013.
African States like Rwanda, Djibouti, Cote d’Ivoire and Burundi are considered among the growing economies in the world. According to this report 114 economies put in place 238 regulatory reforms in 2012/13 making it easier to do business. This report also reveals that since 2009 Sub-Saharan Africa which is home to 9 of the 20 economies, has made some progress in narrowing the gap with the regulatory frontier. Low-income economies narrowed this gap twice as much as high-income economies did. Singapore came first in the doing business ranking. Other states with the most business-friendly regulatory environments include, China, Hong Kong, the United States of America, New Zealand, Denmark, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Georgia, the United Kingdom and Malaysia.
For the very first time the Doing Business report includes data from states like Myanmar, Libya, South Sudan and San Marino. Case studies focus on good practices such as risk-based inspections in dealing with construction permits; the role of minimum capital requisites in commencing a business; single window systems in trading across borders; the cost structure in getting electricity; e-courts in enforcing contracts and e-filing and e-payment in paying taxes.
According to the 2004 report,Mauritius is the best ranked state. Rwanda which is the second best ranked state in Africa comes 23rd in the world’s ranking. Though not good enough Rwanda should be given some kudos especially as this State which suffered from a genocide ranks better than France which comes in the 38th position. South Africa is the third best African state where creating a SME is easy. In the world ranking, South Africa comes in the 41st position. Tunisia which comes fourth in Africa is 51st in the world ranking. Botswana comes 5th on the continent and is positioned 56th in the World’s classification. Ghana is in the 67th position in the world at 6th in Africa, Seychelles is 80th, Zambia is ranked 83th, Morocco comes in the 87th position, Namibia comes in the 98th position, Cape-Vert comes in the 121st position, Swaziland is ranked 123rd, Ethiopia is ranked 125th, Egypt is ranked 128th, Kenya comes in the 129th position, Uganda comes in the 132nd position, Lesotho is ranked in the 136th position, Mozambique is ranked in the 139th position, Burundi occupies the 140 position, Sierra Leone comes in the 142nd position, Liberia comes in the 144th position and Tanzania ranks 145th. Following Tanzania according to the Doing Business ranking, is Nigeria, Madagascar, Sudan and the Gambia which are ranked respectively in 147th, 148th, 149th and 150th positions. Algeria, Burkina Faso and Mali are ranked in the 154th, 155th and 156th positions, while Togo and Djibouti come in the 157th and 160th positions. Gabon is 163rd, Equatorial Guinea 166th, Cote d’Ivoire 167th, Cameroon 168th, Sao Tome et Principe is ranked 169th, Zambia 170th, Malawi 171st, Mauritania 173rd, Benin 174th, Guinea 175th, Niger 176th, Senegal 178th, Angola 179th, Guinea Bissau 180th, the Democratic Republic of Congo 183rd, Eritrea 184th, Congo Brazzaville 185th, South Sudan 186th, Libya 187th, Central Africa Republic 188th and Chad comes 189th in the last position.
Judging from the Doing Business ranking, states like Rwanda, South Africa, Tunisia, Botswana and Ghana have instituted some reforms to lessen the time of setting up a SME. Nearly all the states in the Central African sub region occupy deplorable positions. This is so because of corruption and poor governance. States like South Sudan, Central Africa Republic, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad are still plagued by armed conflict.
In as much as certain pessimists may criticize some of the parameters utilised in coming up with this ranking, as one who lives and works on the continent, I find a lot of truism in this report. For instance, my home country Cameroon still has a long way to go when it comes to starting up a SME. Although the state has set up institutions and anti corruption agencies to fight corruption and ease the creation of SMEs, it remains a pain in the neck in setting up a SME and getting it functional.
It is thus germane for African statesmen to ease the creation of SMEs. Fighting corruption, instituting good governance and curbing armed conflicts should be a priority. Curbing internal and external trade barriers as well as reducing the amount of taxes rather than creating more taxes should be the way to go. The decentralisation process needs to be taken seriously and hastened up. These are steps which can better Africa’s image on the global scene.