The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has announced a goal to move Nigeria into the top-100 on the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Index (DBI). This was made known at the 10th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum which held in Abuja last week.

The Forum was attended by leading members of the organised private sector and other key stakeholders; and had seven Honorable Ministers, including Industry, Trade & Investment, Finance, Budget & National Planning and Power, Works and Housing present to share detailed progress reports with representatives. 

The DBI is an annual ranking that objectively assesses prevailing business climate conditions across 190 countries based on 10 Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) indicators. The Index offers comparative insights based on private sector validation of reforms delivered in the two largest commercial cities in countries with a population higher than 100 million, and the report consequently features Lagos and Kano states for Nigeria.

The World Bank has reported an improvement in Nigeria’s Distance to Frontier (DTF) score by more than 11 basis points over the past 3 years. This means that Nigeria has improved its business regulations as captured by the doing business indicators, and is narrowing the gap with global regulatory best practice. This success has been driven by the implementation of over 140 reforms by PEBEC over the period, which also resulted in the country moving up 24 places in the rankings.

Speaking on the sub-100 target, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, the Secretary of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade & Investment, said “We know it is bold, but we are quite clear on what our mandate is and are motivated by the impact we know these reforms will have on the lives of Nigerians”.

Since its establishment in 2016, PEBEC in collaboration with MDAs and other public and private sector partners, has systematically worked to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks faced by businesses in Nigeria. The Council has focused on reducing the time, cost and procedures of doing business, and some of its successful reforms include the ability of stakeholders to reserve a business name within 4-hours and complete the registration of a company within 24 hours online; apply for and receive approval of a visa-on-arrival electronically within 48hrs; file and pay all federal taxes online; and access specialised small claims commercial courts in Lagos and Kano States, to mention a few. The World Bank also reported in 2018 that 32 states improved in their EoDB environment led by Kaduna, Enugu, Abia, Lagos and Anambra.

Dr. Oduwole stated further “This year, we intend to strengthen the collaboration with MDAs and partners to consolidate and build on the work done. We will be pursuing the implementation of much-needed legislative reforms, specifically the passage of the CAMA and Omnibus Bills; the expansion of the regulatory reform program started with NAFDAC and NAICOM to include other regulators; the establishment of a National Trading Platform for ports; and the concession of our major international airports. We will also continue to cascade the EoDB initiatives down to the sub-national level working with the state governments, and will release the first sub-national survey report in April 2019”.

“We remain firm in our conviction of the immediate and long-term benefits of the PEBEC reforms. We have put in place frameworks for improved communication and engagement between government stakeholders and private sector players, as we intend to ensure the reforms are validated to enable us achieve our sub-100 place in the rankings” she said. 

PEBEC is chaired by the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment as Vice Chair. The Council has 9 other ministers, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Governor of CBN and representatives from the National Assembly and private sector as members.