A new World Bank report on doing business in sub-saharan Africa has shown that the region’s economies led by Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia adopted a record number of business reforms in the last one year.
This was reported in the 15th anniversary edition of the World Bank Group’s annual Doing Business report, which monitors the ease of doing business for small and medium enterprises around the world.
It was revealed that, Nigeria “improved access to credit by guaranteeing borrowers the right to inspect their credit data from the credit bureau and also made starting a business faster by allowing electronic stamping of registration documents”.
It noted that Nigeria moved up 24 places to 145th in the World Bank’s Doing Business rating, even as the country, for the first time, is recognised as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world.
The World Bank’s Doing Business project provides objective measures for business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies.
The report said the region is well represented in this year’s global top 10 improvers based on reforms undertaken by Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia.
It added that Malawi, which implemented four reforms, made significant improvements in the area of Getting Credit by adopting a new law that sets clear rules related to bankruptcy procedures and by establishing a new credit bureau.
Reforms in Zambia also included the strengthening of access to credit by adopting a new Movable Property Act and by setting up a new collateral registry.
A total of 83 business reforms were carried out in the past year, surpassing the previous year’s record of 80 reforms.
This brings to a total of 798 the number of reforms carried out in the past 15 years in the 48 economies of the region monitored by Doing Business in the report released yesterday.
“Four other economies – Mauritania, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal – implemented five reforms each during the past year”, the report said.
It added that Mauritius, the region’s top-ranked economy, carried out four reforms, which included outsourcing the design and construction of sewerage connection works, thus, speeding up the process of obtaining a construction permit and improving processes to facilitate cross border trade.
The World Bank Group pointed to the fact that much of the reform activity in the past year focused on the areas of trading across borders and starting a business, with 15 reforms each, followed by dealing with construction permits, where 14 reforms accounted for 64 per cent of the 22 reforms recorded in this area globally.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has described the phenomenal improvement of Nigeria on the World Bank’s Doing Business latest rankings released yesterday as a welcome development.
Besides moving up 24 places in the rankings, Nigeria is also reported by the World Bank to be among the Top Ten Reformers globally.
In a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, the president congratulated all Nigerians on this very significant step forward, which he said symbolises the real success achieved by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), the National Assembly and state governments in making it easy for people to register their businesses speedily, obtain licenses and approvals from government agencies without unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks.
According to President Buhari, “it also reflects our efforts to make it easy for foreign business visitors to obtain visa on arrival, pass through our airports and do their businesses with ease and speed”.
Buhari commended PEDEC chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for a job well done, stressing that he was looking forward to even greater achievements for the nation.
Reacting to the development, Vice President Osinbajo said, “I welcome Nigeria’s improved performance. We are one of the top ten reforming economies in the world in 2017. After a decade-long decline in Nigeria’s rankings, last year the Government recorded a modest increase. This year, Mr President set us an ambitious target of moving up twenty places in the rankings – I am delighted that we have exceeded his goal.”
A statement by spokesman of the vice president, Laolu Akande, noted that the World Bank highlighted five reforms making it easier to do business in Kano and Lagos, the two cities covered by the report.
AfDB Backs Nation’s Recovery Plan
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has commended the federal government’s Economic and Growth Recovery Plan (EGRP).
In a statement posted on its website yesterday, the bank also refuted media report that it has cancelled a loan of $400 million to Nigeria.
Denying the report that it had cancelled the $400 million loan to Nigeria, it stated its continuous support for the federal government’s economic recovery efforts.
Reuters news agency had reported that the bank called off negotiations for a loan to Nigeria that was meant to help government fund its budget.
The report quoted the Bank’s Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate Change & Green Growth, Amadou Hott, as making the disclosure on Monday in an interview during a Nordic-African business conference in Oslo, Norway.
According to the statement, in November 2016, the Board of the AfDB approved a 600 million dollars loan to support Nigeria’s efforts to cope with macro-economic and fiscal shocks that arose from the massive decline in price of crude oil.
It noted: “An additional 400 million dollars in support could be considered, if requested and approved by the Board, as part of a larger coordinated effort with other development partners, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
“The African Development Bank wishes to categorically refute the statement that it has “called off loans to Nigeria”, as reported in Reuters and credited to AfDB Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth Amadou
“The AfDB is highly encouraged by the economic recovery of Nigeria from recession and salutes the government’s efforts towards diversification of the economy.
“The Bank also strongly supports the Economic and Growth Recovery Plan of the government and efforts to stem corruption and strengthen fiscal consolidation and efficiency.
“The Bank assures the Nigerian Government of its full support for its continued reforms to diversify the economy and boost economic growth and development’’.
FG Saves $2bn Annually From Local Cement Production
Meanwhile, the chairman of BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, has said that the local cement manufacturers save Nigeria about $2 billion annually by producing over 25 million tonnes of cement.
Addressing State House correspondents after a meeting of the Presidential Industrial Advisory Council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa yesterday, the business mogul said the cement industry in Nigeria will continue to save Nigeria a lot of foreign exchange.
He stated: “If, for example, you quantify what we have produced in Nigeria today- maybe 25 million tonnes to 30 million tonnes- in terms of foreign exchange, it is almost two billion dollars per year.
“That is a lot of money being saved because if we do not have these cement plants definitely we have to import cement.
“And not only do we have to spend money in terms of foreign exchange import but the price of cement definitely would have been higher than what it is today’’, he said.
Rabiu also spoke about the expansion of his company’s facilities in order to make more cement available for local consumption.
According to him, “we will be inaugurating our Sokoto plant next quarter, early 2018, and also our Edo second cement line will come on stream probably by second quarter of next year.”
Rabiu mentioned the reduction of price of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO), and the appreciation of the local currency in the foreign exchange market as things that helped the sub-sector to grow.