The African Heritage Institution (AfriHeritage), on Tuesday 12th December, 2017, launched the official Report of the long awaited third edition of the Business Environment and Competitiveness across Nigerian States (BECANS) 2016. The public presentation of the Report which was performed by the Special Adviser to the Governor of Enugu State on Small and Medium Enterprises, Hon. Anayo Agu, took place at the AfriHeritage Hall, Independence Layout, Enugu, South-east, Nigeria.
In his welcome remarks, the Executive Director of AfriHeritage, Professor Ufo Okeke-Uzodike observed that despite the relative improvement recorded by Nigeria in the World bank ease of doing business index, the country is still one of the worst places in the world to do business. He said though Nigeria, in 2017 had slightly progressed from its previous position of 169 out of 190 to her current position of 145, quite a lot still needed to be done to get the country truly ready for business.
According to him, “In most states around the country, it remains extremely stressful and very costly to start a business, register property, secure credit, or obtain construction permits”. He further argued that There are also other prohibitive costs that hinder business activities such as a chronic lack of electricity and poor security in many areas.
“Many business owners are harassed and stifled by multiple points of taxation. Many others face complex challenges in building on legally purchased lands as communities extort money or push back against state fiat in disposing communal land with little or no compensation”, he asserted.
He acknowledged the impact the economic and growth recovery plan of the government as well as the various policies geared towards ensuring ease of doing business in Nigeria have had on the growth of the economy which ostensibly resulted into the country’s current status as one of the top 10 ‘most improved’ economies in the world.
“Nigeria’s performance in 2017 is attributable to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and reforms such as Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan that deployed ostensibly “innovative” approaches. There were also other key reforms such as greater ease in starting a business, registering property, securing credit, paying taxes, and dealing with construction permits”.
He said BECANS series which have for several years been at the forefront of tracking the ease of doing business and competiveness in Nigeria provides a veritable tool for policy evaluation and redirection towards the overall institutionalization of ease of doing business in Nigeria.
Taking an over-view of the BECANS series, the Executive Director of the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Authority (ANSIPPA), Dr Ifediora Amobi, revealed the positive contributions of the BECANS study in improving the overall policy direction of the Anambra State government in her quest to ensure direct investment and ease of doing business in the state. He said part of the present challenge is to translate the report into policy action by various governments.