Kenya is leading other sub-Saharan Africa economies in implementing a record number of business reforms for the second consecutive year, a new World Bank report says. The 15th anniversary edition of the World Bank Group’s annual Doing Business report, released yesterday, shows that Kenya implemented the most reforms – six in total – in the region in the past year.
Among other improvements, Kenya made starting a business easier by reducing the number of procedures required to register it and reduced the time for import documentary compliance by utilising a single-window system. In the ease of doing business global rankings, Mauritius is in position 25, followed by Rwanda (41), and Kenya (80) as the region’s top ranked economies. Kenya also improved the reliability of electricity supply by investing in distribution lines and transformers and setting up a specialised squad to restore power when outages occur. It implemented an online platform (iTax) for filing and paying corporate income tax. Other highlights of the region’s successes over the past 15 years include making it easier to register a business, which has been a major focus for the region in the 15 years since Doing Business was first published, with 163 reforms recorded in this area. In 2003, it took 61 days on average to start a business in the region.
Today, it takes 24 days, which compare with the global average of 20 days. In Kenya, for example, the time needed to start a business has been more than halved from 60 days in 2003, to 25 days today. In the area of enforcing contracts, Rwanda reduced the time to settle a commercial dispute from 395 days 15 years ago, to 230 days today. In resolving insolvency, Zambia increased the recovery rate from 17 cents on the dollar in 15 years ago to 48 cents on the dollar today.
The biggest reformer in the region is Rwanda, with 52 reforms in 15 years, followed by Kenya with 32 reforms, and Mauritius with 31 reforms. The report, which monitors ease of doing business for small and medium enterprises around the world, shows that 83 business reforms were carried out in the past year, surpassing the previous year’s record of 81 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 2018: Reforming to Create Jobs.
The region is well represented in this year’s global top 10 improvers, based on reforms undertaken, with Malawi, Nigeria, and Zambia. 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. Nigeria also 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. 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. Much of the reforms focused on the areas of trading across borders and starting a business, with 15 reforms each, followed by dealing with construction permits.