It is exactly a week since the World Bank delivered the good news on November 7 that the country has moved up 24 places on the World Bank ease of doing business ranking. The country has moved up from its 169 position to a current position of 145. Even though, still relatively low considering that we are still ranked very low on several key indices, it is gladdening to note that we progressed upwards rather than deteriorated. At 145, we still remain one of the worst places to do business on earth and that is something that must be changed urgently.
But the good news from the ranking is the fact that it once more affirms the fact that when we put our mind on achieving something as a country, we often do. In October 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the Presidential Council on Ease of Doing Business with a clear mandate to “remove red tapes and other impediments associated with investment in the country.” Located in the Vice President’s office and led by Jumoke Oduwole, the council has been clearly focused on achieving its mandate. It has had strong support from the Presidency and this has translated into actual gains on the ground. Even though, removing red tapes and bureaucracy is not the easiest of things, breakthroughs have been made especially in the areas of business registration, transparency on government charges and service delivery as well as in access to credit, where Nigeria now ranks number six globally.
The National Assembly has also been largely supportive identifying 12 economic bills which they want to pass to unlock economic growth in the country. It is the passage of the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act (otherwise known as Collateral Registry Act) and Credit Reporting Act, that essentially pushed up the country’s ranking in access to credit. This indicates that if the legislature and the Presidency can put aside their differences and work together, Nigeria can achieve even far more.
Credit must also go to the Lagos and Kano state governments who cooperated with the ease of doing business council to ensure that they removed several of the red tapes in their government to make it easier to do businesses in their state. It is also great that a sub-national ranking of states on the ease of doing business has commenced and we are sure that this will create competition among states and enhance the business environment in the country.
It is important the governments at all levels realize that the most important reason for their existence is to create jobs for their people. This can only be done by having a great business environment. When there are jobs, wealth is created and when wealth is created, tax revenues for the government is enhanced and when tax revenues are enhanced, it puts the government in a better position to build the infrastructure that enables businesses to thrive and create more jobs. So now that we have moved up the ranking, the next challenge is to ensure we sustain the upward momentum. There is no reason that Nigeria should not be the place on earth to do business. It can be done.