BY EDMUND KAGIRE
KIGALI - Rwanda did not only achieve the double digit ranking it was eyeing in the 2010 World Bank ‘Doing Business Report’, but the nation emerged as the top reformer in setting up a conducive business environment.
It took a massive leap from its previous ranking of 143rd, to 67th out of 183 countries.
The Doing Business 2010 Report named “Reforming through Difficult Times” was officially unveiled at the World Bank Country office by Penelope Brook, the acting Vice President, Financial and Private Sector Development at the World Bank-IFC.
In attendance were Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, senior government officials, as well as donors.
“We have seen 67 reforms in 29 Sub-Saharan economies this year and we get to celebrate the fact that we have two African countries in our top ten reformers. Rwanda is the top reformer worldwide,” Penelope Brook said.
“It jumps 76 places in the ranking to number 67 and by reforming in seven of the areas that we cover. That is the biggest jump that we have ever seen in the Doing Business Ranking. This calls for a celebration,” she said amidst ululations and applause.
Brook who flew in to announce the results to different African countries by a video link, commended post-conflict countries, including Rwanda, Liberia and Sierra Leone, for major improvements in easing doing business.
Out of the 10 indicators of the World Bank, Rwanda registered massive reforms-the best globally, in starting a business, employing workers, dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, trading across borders and closing business.
It also emerged the most consistent reformer, moving from 143 to 67 in the rankings followed by Mauritius, which is 17th overall, from 24th position in the previous report.
Reforms in the company law passed this year, simplifying the start-up process from 14 days to just 2 days, and time taken to register property, largely boosted Rwanda’s new ranking.
Also outstanding is the improvements in access to credit and protecting investors which were all strengthened by the new company law.
Alongside the company law is the new labour law, security interest in movable property and the law on commercial recovery and settling of issues arising from insolvency helped Rwanda rank highly.
The business reforms are part of the government’s wider efforts to promote Rwanda as a business and investment destination, in order to drive the growth of the private sector and generate wealth.
“On behalf of the Government of Rwanda, I want to acknowledge and welcome the results of Doing Business 2010 Report. This year we have done a major overhaul of our legal framework by modernising key business laws, following the best laws worldwide,” said Makuza.
He stressed that Rwanda focused on investment, service delivery and access to credit and simplifying taxation procedures.
“While achieving the double digit is very rewarding, we remain focused on the implementation of sustainable reforms and ensuring that they trickle down to all administrative levels. We envision doing further reforms to streamline procedures to do business.”
The Prime Minister expressed the willingness and determination of the government to continue implementing major reforms, bearing in mind the competitiveness of the countries, adding that the Rwanda will aim even higher in the next rankings.
“This achievement is a result of extensive efforts by the government in the last few years aimed at establishing a conducive legal framework, streamlining procedures, reducing bureaucracy and improving service delivery in order to encourage domestic and foreign investments,” said the Trade and Industry Minister Monique Nsanzabaganwa.
In a year of fast-paced reforms, Rwanda’s unprecedented leap in the Doing Business ranking sets a firm foundation for continued efforts to enhance progress beyond World Bank indicators to the business and investment climate as a whole, and consolidation of reforms beyond Kigali to district levels.
“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,” Brook said.
“Rwanda’s progress is impressive and richly deserved. For the first time an African country is the top performer,” said Jean Philippe Prosper, the Director of IFC, Eastern and Southern Africa.
In the region, Rwanda again emerged the most favourable place to do business with its neighbours ranking behind it.
Kenya is the nearest ranking at 95th, Uganda 112th, Tanzania 131st, Burundi 176th and DRC a lowly 179th.
Meanwhile, a cabinet meeting that sat yesterday evening chaired by President Paul Kagame welcomed the report and called for more efforts to aim higher in the next rankings.
The meeting set a target of being among the top ten in the Doing Business rankings, calling upon all leaders in different capacities to put more emphasis on service delivery to expedite the country’s development.
Submitted by Honorine Umutoni Gasasira