Developing countries carried out 206 reforms, accounting for 78 percent of the total reforms, with Sub-Saharan Africa implementing 83 reforms, a record for a second consecutive year for the region, and South Asia implementing a record 20 reforms.
A large number of reforms centered on improving access to credit and registering a new business, with 38 reforms each, as well as facilitating cross border trade, with 33 reforms, according to the World Bank Group’s latest Doing Business 2018: Reforming to Create Jobs report.
Reform activity continued to accelerate in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 36 economies implementing 83 business reforms in the past year. The region is home to three of this year’s top 10 improvers – Malawi, Nigeria, and Zambia. Over the past 15 years, the region has implemented 798 reforms. In 2003, it took 61 days on average to start a business in the region, compared to 22.5 days today.
“Job creation is one of the transformational gains that countries and communities can achieve when the private sector is allowed to flourish. Fair, efficient and transparent rules, which Doing Business promotes, improve governance and tackle corruption,” said World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva.
Marking its 15th anniversary, the report notes that 3,188 business reforms have been carried out since it began monitoring the ease of doing business for domestic small and medium enterprises around the world.
Globally governments in 119 economies carried out 264 business reforms in the past year to create jobs, attract investment and become more competitive, according to the report.
The report also monitors hurdles faced specifically by women in the areas of Starting a Business, Registering Property and Enforcing Contracts. This year’s report records a welcome reform by the Democratic Republic of Congo, which eliminated the requirement for women to obtain their husband’s permission to register a business. However, 36 economies continue to place obstacles for women entrepreneurs, with 22 economies imposing additional steps for married women to start a business and 14 limiting women’s ability to own, use and transfer property.
This year’s report includes two case studies on transparency, which analyze data from business registries and land administrations and find that economies with more transparent and accessible information have lower levels of corruption and bribery.
A third case study on private sector participation in formulating construction regulation finds that such rules exhibited higher costs and a propensity for conflicts of interest. A fourth case study highlights three successful insolvency reforms in France, Slovenia and Thailand, and lessons that are transferable to other economies.