Sub-Saharan Africa racks up ease of doing business reforms

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More than 70 per cent of Sub-Saharan economies carried out reforms to improve the ease of doing business in their country in the past year, according to a new World Bank Group report.

The Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency report found that of 230 regulatory reforms aimed at improving the ease of doing business in countries worldwide, 75 took place in Sub-Saharan Africa – with 70 per cent of the region’s countries implementing at least one such reform.

Further, Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for five of the top 10 most improved regulatory environments for the year spanning June 2013 to June 2014, with Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Senegal and Togo listed among the top 10 most improved economies.

Globally compared, a number of Sub-Saharan African countries took a place in the top 100 countries for ease of doing business, such as South Africa, Rwanda, Ghana, Botswana, and Namibia.

Various measures were implemented across the region to make starting up a business easier; with the DRC and Mauritania creating one-stop shops; the Gambia eliminating the requirement to pay stamp duty; and Malawi streamlining company name searches and registration, to name but a few.

Many reforms focused on alleviating taxation pressures.  In the DRC, corporate tax returns were simplified, and the previous minimum tax payable based on the size of a company was abolished.  In the Republic of Congo tax on the rental value of business premises was abolished; while Gabon introduced an electronic system for filing and paying VAT.

Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal implemented reforms lowering the minimum capital requirement.

Many countries – including (but not limited to) Benin, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Mali, and Niger – introduced measures to improve minority investor protection, particularly involving heightened requirements for disclosure of related-party transactions to the board of directors.

Inevitable some negative reforms were also noted across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Kenya increased employers’ social security contribution rate, making taxes more costly for businesses; while Rwanda’s reform requiring companies to buy an electronic billing machine from a certified supplier made starting a business more difficult in the country.

Sierra Leone introduced a capital gains tax making company taxation more complicated; and South Africa required credit bureaus to remove negative credit information from their databases from before April 1, 2014.

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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