The World Bank Doing Business project provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies worldwide.
According to the World Bank, Nigeria has been recognized as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world alongside El Salvador, India, Malawi, Brunei Darussalam, Kosovo, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Zambia and Djibouti.
The recent ranking of Nigeria by the World Bank Group on the ease of doing business could be connected to the performance of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC). The PEBEC was set up in July 2016 to remove bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria and make the country a progressively easier place to start and grow a business.
The World Bank highlighted improved measures around Starting a Business, Dealing with Construction Permits, Registering Property, Getting Credit and Paying Taxes as the five reforms which have positively impacted the ease of doing business in Kano and Lagos, the two Nigerian cities covered by the report in 2016.
In company registration, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has moved to offer online registration on its Company Registration Portal
in addition to introducing new features like the electronic stamping of registration documents. This has enabled entrepreneurs to register their businesses within a significantly shorter 24-48-hour period, thereby saving cost and time.
Obtaining construction permits and property registration in both Lagos and Kano States have become more transparent and easier for businesses with the online publication of all relevant regulations, fee schedules and pre-application requirements online.
The Federal Government recorded significant success in strengthening the legal framework for access to credit for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises across the country by collaborating with the National Assembly to pass two new Acts, the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act 2017 and the Credit Reporting Act 2017.
The Visa-On-Arrival process has also been improved with the inclusion of e-submission of applications to a dedicated desk at the Nigeria Immigration Service, while manual baggage searches at airports have also been eliminated.
Finally, it has become easier to pay taxes in Nigeria because taxpayers can file tax returns at the nearest Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) office, and electronic payment and filing are gradually gaining acceptance.
The international recognition given to Nigeria by the improvement in the ease of doing business coupled with the implemented reforms and the intention of the Federal Government to expand the initiative beyond Lagos and Kano States will enable Nigeria attract significant foreign investment activity, stabilise the economy and continue the reversal of the 2016 economic recession.