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Rwanda Top Business Reformer

A majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa – many supported by IFC, MIGA and the World Bank -- have improved their business environments during a tough economic year, with consistent over-achiever Rwanda placing first among the world’s reformers, according to a World Bank report.

Rwanda jumped an impressive 76 places - from 143 to 67 - on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2010 report, becoming the first African country to top the list as the world’s biggest business reformer.


IFC continues to support Rwanda’s efforts to make wholesale improvements to its business environment, an ongoing process that is helping the tiny, landlocked country attract investment, grow its economy, and reduce poverty.


Rwanda landed at top spot among the world’s reformers following changes to seven of the 10 business regulation areas measured by the Doing Business Report, which is compiled by IFC.


It now takes a Rwandan entrepreneur just two procedures and three days to start a business. Imports and exports are more efficient, and transferring property takes less time thanks to a reorganized registry and statutory time limits. Investors have more protection, insolvency reorganization has been streamlined, and a wider range of assets can be used as collateral to access credit.


"Rwanda has been consistently reforming year in and year out since 2001," said Neil Gregory, advisor for financial and private-sector development at the World Bank.


African Stars


A number of other African countries made gains on the Doing Business report, which ranks 183 countries based on analysis of regulations of business start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and closing a business. 


    • Liberia, the second-fastest reforming economy in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the world’s top 10 reformers last year, eased procedures for business start-up, reduced fees for construction permits, and sped trade with a new one-stop center.
    • Sierra Leone introduced a company law that strengthened investor protections, enhanced access to credit, and provided for the reorganization of troubled firms. It also established a one-stop center for business registration.
    • Burkina Faso reformed in five of the 10 areas covered by the report, including simplifying procedures for construction permits, improving contract enforcement, streamlining property registration, easing business start-up, and expediting trade.
    • Mali reformed in five areas. Other leading reformers were Angola, Cameroon, and Ethiopia. South Africa lowered taxes on domestic firms.
    • Mauritius, ranked 17 of the 183 economies, was the top Sub-Saharan economy for the second year in a row in terms of the overall regulatory ease of doing business. It adopted a new insolvency law, established a specialized commercial division within the court, eased property transfers, and expedited trade processes.


In a year of fast-paced regulatory changes, 67 reforms were recorded in 29 of 46 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, many of these supported by IFC, which works with governments and the private sector to help improve and streamline business procedures.


An improved business environment can directly lead to increased investment, job creation, and poverty reduction. Reforms measured by Doing Business can also play an important role in enabling countries to recover from the economic crisis.


According to the 2010 report, Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the fastest-reforming region for the sixth year in a row, while Singapore led the rankings as the world’s easiest place to do business for the fourth straight year
.

“In times overshadowed by the global financial and economic crisis, business regulation can make an important difference for how easy it is to reorganize troubled firms to help them survive, to rebuild when demand rebounds, and to get new businesses started,” said Penelope Brook, Acting Vice President for Financial and Private Sector Development at the World Bank Group. “The report also shows that some post-conflict economies in the region are actively improving the regulatory framework for private sector-led development.”


The complete Doing Business 2010 Report can be found
here

For more information contact:

Jason Hopps
Communications Officer
Johannesburg, South Africa
Phone: +27 11 731 3120
E-mail: jhopps@ifc.org