The World Bank Group has announced its decision to discontinue its Doing Business (DB) report on the heels of the irregularities in the data for China (DB 2018), Saudi Arabi, the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan (DB 2020).
Launched in 2002, the DB report was an annual perception index and report that empirically assessed prevailing business climate conditions across 190 countries by tracking the lifecycle of a small or medium-sized business. The report served as a catalyst for economic reforms and investor decisions across the globe. Nigeria strongly condemns the corruption, connivance and collusion among top officials of the Bank which has led to the unfortunate termination of the report after its suspension in 2020.
Though saddened by the announcement, the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, noted that “testimonials from our private sector remains the primary yardstick for success of the ease of doing business agenda in Nigeria. We are aware that manifold challenges remain, which private sector players face daily in the course of their interactions with some ministries, departments and agencies across the country. As such, we remain committed to our agenda of improving Nigeria’s business climate in its entirety.”
Nigeria was first featured in the DB report of 2004 and was ranked based on actual and perceived business realities from survey contributors in Lagos and Kano, the two largest commercial cities in the country. Having started on a relatively good note, Nigeria’s ranking declined from 106th in 2007 to 170th in 2015 – a drop of 64 places translating into an average loss of 8 spots a year.
Since the establishment of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in July 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat of the PEBEC has collaborated with ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), the National Assembly, the Judiciary, State governments and the private sector to deliver over 160 reforms in a bid to remove bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria and make the country a progressively easier place to start and grow a business.
During this period, Nigeria improved an aggregate of 39 places in the World Bank Doing Business index from 170th to 131st position. It will be recalled that in 2017 Nigeria leapt up by an unprecedented 24 places on the Doing Business rankings, and again moved up 15 places in 2019. The country was twice named as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world in the last three editions of the report, one of only two African countries to make this highly prestigious list in 2019.
While the DB index provided objective benchmarking of Nigeria’s strides viz-a-viz other countries, and external validation of Nigeria ease of doing business intervention, the Nigerian business community has been and remains the raison d’etre for the business climate reform mandate of the PEBEC. Indeed, from inception, the PEBEC has developed its own home-grown indicators and programmes starting with “Entry and Exit of People” pertaining to streamlining of visa issuance and immigration processes at our airports. In 2017 and 2018, the “Trading Within Nigeria” indicator, the “Subnational Ease of Doing Business Intervention” with all states governments through the National Economic Council (NEC) as well as the pilot “Regulatory Reforms Program” followed respectively.
The PEBEC-NEC collaboration to implement a subnational ease of doing business intervention remains a major component of the PEBEC agenda to ensure reforms cascade to the state level where businesses are domiciled by engaging and collaborating with State Ease of Doing Business Councils and State Reform Champions to implement concrete reform initiatives that deliver real impact for businesses. In this regard, an inaugural version of Nigeria’s homegrown Subnational Baseline Ease of Doing Business Survey Report was released earlier this year. The key objectives of the Subnational Baseline Survey Report were to provide a comprehensive status report on the current business climate attractiveness across all States and the FCT that feed into States’ ease of doing business reform agendas. The report also serves as an informative resource document for businesses and investors at home and abroad.
Furthermore, the PEBEC has been internationally recognized for its signature homegrown 60-day accelerators – National Action Plans (NAPs) – designed to coordinate the effective delivery of priority reforms of select MDAs annually. Six NAPs have been completed from 2017 to date. Other innovations include the design and implementation of Executive Order 001 on Transparency and Efficiency of Public Service Delivery signed in May 2017 as well as a feedback mechanism, www.ReportGov.Ng a publicly available complaints portal.
The PEBEC was established in July 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari to remove critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria. His Excellency the Vice President, Professor Osinbajo SAN GCON, is the Chair of the Council, with the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, serving as Vice Chair. 13 other Honourable Ministers, the Secretary to the Government, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as representatives of the National Assembly, Lagos and Kano States, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and the private sector are also members.