Ghana tops the one spot in ease of doing business among countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region. Ghana was followed by Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, according to the latest World Bank Group report on Doing Business.
Though Ghana dropped to 67th position in the global ranking, the report noted that West Africa's second largest economy made starting a business more difficult by requiring entrepreneurs to obtain a tax identification number prior to company incorporation.
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to record a large number of reforms aimed at easing the regulatory burden on local entrepreneurs, with 66 reforms adopted in the past year. Rwanda, Côte d Ivoire, and Burundi were among the 10 economies globally improving business regulation the most, the report stated.
The ease of doing business index ranks economies from one to 189. For each economy the ranking is calculated as the simple average of the percentile rankings on each of the 10 topics included in the index in Doing Business 2014;
Starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
The employing workers' indicators are not included in this year's aggregate ease of doing business ranking.
TheDoing Business 2014 report entitled: Understanding Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises finds that of the 20 economies improving business regulation the most since 2009, nine are in Sub-Saharan Africa: Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Togo, Benin, Liberia, Côte d Ivoire, and Guinea.
The report's data show that of the 47 economies in the region, 31 implemented at least one business regulatory reform in 2012/13. Rwanda implemented the most in the region, with reforms in eight of the 10 areas tracked by Doing Business. Three African economies made the biggest progress globally in an area measured by the report: Burundi in the ease of registering property, Benin in the ease of trading across borders, and Côte d Ivoire in the ease of enforcing contracts.
It is encouraging to see so many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa engaged in reforms aimed at reducing burdensome regulations and building up stronger legal institutions.
In 2012/13, more than twice as many economies in the region reformed as in 2005, said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director, Global Indicators and Analysis, World Bank Group.
Despite these achievements, more can be done to improve the quality of the rules underpinning the activities of the private sector, to ensure continued convergence toward the better practices seen elsewhere in the world.
For the first time, Doing Business this year measures business regulations in South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011.
Despite the challenges of creating laws and regulations from scratch, South Sudan has already passed a company law, tax law, and insolvency law. Singapore tops the global ranking on the ease of doing business.
Joining it on the list of the top 10 economies with the most business-friendly regulations are Hong Kong SAR, China; New Zealand; the United States; Denmark; Malaysia; the Republic of Korea; Georgia; Norway; and the United Kingdom.
In addition to the global rankings, every year Doing Business reports the economies that have improved the most on the indicators since the previous year.