Nigeria was among the 10 economies showing the most notable improvement in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business list published on Tuesday.
It rose 24 places in the ranking of countries to 145th place. Nigeria this year introduced initiatives aimed at improving the business environment, such as new systems to speed up the processing of visas for executives.
Local and foreign business leaders have long complained that red tape, mismanagement and corruption have made it difficult to operate in Africa’s most populous country, which has the continent’s largest economy.
“Three Sub-Saharan African economies – Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia – made it to the list of 10 top improvers in 2016/17,” stated the report.
It said Nigeria made the process of starting a business faster by introducing the electronic approval of registration documents, improved access to credit information and introduced a centralized electronic system to pay federal taxes.
President Muhammadu Buhari said the report “reflects our efforts to make it easy for foreign business visitors to obtain visa on arrival, pass through our airports and do their businesses with ease and speed”.
The annual World Bank report covered the period from June 2 last year to June 1 this year.
…must prepare for the world after oil, says vice president
Nigeria must use its oil wealth to prepare for a future when the world no longer runs on fossil fuels, the vice president said last week Thursday.
Yemi Osinbajo said the nation, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, needed to develop renewable energy and help other businesses flourish to “adjust to the reality of the dwindling significance of fossil fuels”.
“It is no longer a question of if but when,” Osinbajo said, referring to global efforts to shift away from oil as a fuel.
“Oil-rich countries, such as ourselves, have an obligation to prepare for a destiny that may well be beyond oil,” he told the Oil Producing Trade Section (OPTS) conference in Lagos.
Nigeria’s government has long talked of diversifying Africa’s largest economy away from reliance on oil, but earnings from output of crude still provide two-thirds of state revenue.
The vice president called on oil and gas majors in Nigeria, many of them represented in the audience, to invest in renewable energy research and development to help Nigeria prepare for a “clean energy economy” and the “post-oil world”.
Ailing power infrastructure means that, despite its oil wealth, blackouts are common in the nation of 180 million people. Many businesses rely on costly generators to operate.
The government has previously said it wanted to diversify the power supply.
In the past few months, it has announced a $5.8 billion deal to build the 3,050 megawatt (MW) Mambilla hydroelectric plant, and purchase agreements with 14 solar companies for 1,300 MW of power, are part this drive.
Osinbajo said the country needed to reduce “bureaucratic bottlenecks” in contract awards and approvals.