What are the lessons for African governments, and for global companies, in the latest edition of the World Bank’s benchmark “Doing Business” reports? This was the focus of a high-level World Bank briefing on March 12 at the University Club in New York, co-sponsored by USCIB and Coca-Cola Africa. The event attracted top African diplomats resident in New York, along with business representatives and others from the policy community.
The annual Doing Business report examines which countries make it easiest – and which hardest – to start and run a business. It compares ten indicators of business regulations across 178 countries, analyzing government regulations that enhance or restrain business activity, and it ranks countries on their overall ease of doing business.
USCIB hosted the launch of the 2008 Doing Business report in September of last year at an event featuring World Bank President Robert Zoellick.
The March 12 session featuredl Michael Kein, vice president for financial and private sector development at the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector arm, who led an overview of the Bank’s criteria for ranking countries and the factors for success among the African countries that ranked highly in the latest report.
According to Mr. Klein, business conditions have improved in some parts of Africa. In 2006-2007, 28 countries in North and Sub-Saharan Africa implemented reforms that made it easier to start and run a business. Egypt, Ghana, and Kenya were among the top ten reformers worldwide in the Doing Business 2008 report, and they also made the most significant advances in the aggregate ease of doing business rankings among countries in Africa. Overall, Mauritius topped the rankings in Africa on the ease of doing business and placed 27th in the global rankings.
Peter M. Robinson, president of USCIB, also spoke at the event, as did Alexander B. Cummings, president and chief operating officer of the Africa Group at the Coca-Cola Company. Mr. Robinson offered the assistance of USCIB and its global network – especially the International Organization of Employers (IOE), which has a strong African network – in the development and promotion of future Doing Business reports. An IOE delegation met in February with Mr. Zoellick and other top World Bank representatives to discuss this and other cooperative measures.
USCIB will continue its efforts to promote awareness of the Doing Business report by co-sponsoring a high-level seminar and dinner in June, at the New York Stock Exchange, at which the top ten reforming countries will be recognized. Additional information on the Doing Business report is available at www.doingbusiness.org.