The World Bank (WB) recently released its Ease of Doing Business 2020 Report. Each year, WB releases this report that compares business regulation for local firms in 190 economies. Nigeria’s ranking jumped from 146 to 131; representing its second-highest annual progress of 11.45% in a decade. The highest annual growth remains at 14.2%. Furthermore, the annual report looks at ten (10) parameters. Dealing with construction permits (14.6%) and trading across borders (6.1%) had the best growth. The country improved its rank in 5 parameters while moving closer to global best practices in 2 parameters. WB also recognized Nigeria as the ten most improved economies, thanks to 6 distinct reforms from the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).
However, a 5-year historical review of distance to frontier (DTF) score shows that business regulations were tough from 2016 to 2017. The year 2018 marked a new cycle of better policies for businesses as the DTF score rose from 52.33 to 56.9 (2020).
A 10-year review of ranking also shows how the country was an unfriendly business destination from 137 (2011) to an all-time high of 170 (2015). Thereafter, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) took practical steps to make the country more appealing to businesses. Since 2011, Nigeria has reached its highest position as 131st twice.
The country’s rank was far lower than its fellow MINT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey). MINTs are classified using the population size, favorable demographics, and emerging economies. Turkey (33) topped the MINT, followed by Mexico (60) and Indonesia (73). Meanwhile, eight (8) Sub-Saharan Africa countries rank in the top 100 positions. For instance, Mauritius (13), Rwanda (38), Kenya (56), South Africa (82) created friendlier regulations than Nigeria. Lower-middle-income economies like Malawi (109), Uganda (116), Ghana (118), and Lesotho (122) also offer a more attractive environment.
Ease of doing business: Nigeria Vs. Indonesia
BRC compares Nigeria’s performance in the last 5 years with Indonesia, a lower-middle-income economy under the MINT classification. Data is a population-weighted average for the two biggest commercial states.
1. Registering a property:
Nigeria enhanced its land administration process through a geographic information system. Yet, the time for registering property increased a little to 92 days (2019: 91.7 days). Moreover, Indonesia introduced no reform and registering property took a long time of 31 days (2019: 27.6 days).
2. Trading across borders:
By introducing an electronic payment of fees, the time for complying with documentary and border regulations in Nigeria reduced very much to 564 hours (2019: 662.1 hours). The reforms were cost-effective and time-efficient. Indonesia also enhanced the online processing of export customs declarations. However, the total compliance hours in Indonesia dropped a bit to 322 hours (2019: 320.2 hours).
3. Getting electricity:
Licensed engineers inspected new connections in Nigeria. Residents, thus, got a faster power supply in 110 days (2019: 115.3 days). Indonesia also repaired its electrical grid which lessened the time to get new electrical connections. This reform lowered the time to get electricity to 32 days (2019: 34 days).
4. Paying taxes:
During the reporting period of 2018/2019, a taxable person in Nigeria paid taxes in 343 hours (2019: 347.4 hours). In comparison, Indonesia automated the process for tax payment and filing. A taxable person in Indonesia paid taxes in a shorter period of 191 hours (2019: 207.5 hours).
Based on the 2020 report, Nigeria only restored to its earlier position in 2013 of 131st. To rank as the top 100 economies in 2023, FGN needs to give urgent intervention to the above four (4) parameters. PEBEC also needs to introduce massive reforms to property law, international trade, electricity and tax laws. And the time starts now.