The Business Environment and Competitiveness across Nigerian States (BECANS) is the flagship research, survey and dissemination initiative of African Heritage Institution (AfriHeritage).
The initiative runs in successive cycles of research, surveys, dissemination and policy dialogue for the promotion of better business environment throughout the country. Each cycle begins with desk research (the scientific validation of models, methods and indicators) and followed by survey/data collection, data analysis, report writing, publication, dissemination and dialogue between the government and stakeholders in private sector and civil society.
Until recently, most investment climate assessments relied on aggregate indicators of the quality of a country’s policy, regulatory and institutional environment. Investment climate assessments were cross-country comparisons based on universal set of measures. While aggregate indicators of investment climate at the national level are useful, the aggregate picture masks differences in business environment across the states. In particular, any national picture of business environment in Nigeria that does not take into account potential differences across subnational jurisdictions cannot give a fair and true picture of the reality. This is because Nigeria’s federal constitution allows considerable autonomy for subnational governments to shape the business environment in their respective locations. In addition, differing policy and institutional contexts as well as historic social and economic conditions over space and time underscore the potential variations in the business environment.
Before BECANS was initiated, there was no assessment of the business environment at the subnational level in Nigeria. To address this shortcoming, BECANS focuses on disaggregated business environment analysis at the state level. With state-level disaggregated data, state governments will have the empirical basis to guide policy, institutional and regulatory improvements. Also, stakeholders (private sector and civil society) will get evidence basis to support advocacy and dialogue for business environment reforms in respective states of the country.
Working with stakeholders to measure, benchmark and monitor the business environment is the overarching role of the programme on business environment and competitiveness across Nigerian states (BECANS). Monitoring and reporting the business environment is important for designing and implementing policy and institutional reforms by the federal, state and local governments. On the other hand, an independent and objective assessment of the business environment is useful tool for private sector and civil society to advocate and dialogue with government.
So far, the Institution has successfully undertaken three editions of the BECANS project with their reports published and are presently in public domain. The first was in 2006, the second was in 2010 while the last one was carried out in 2016. Presently, the 2019 edition of the project (BECANS IV) has reached an advanced stage and will soon be out.
Perhaps, one important aspect of the BECANS survey is its response to the dynamics of the business environment. For instance, the indicators are constantly reviewed to reflect the realities of the current situation in terms of technological innovations and development as a major contributor to ease of doing business. This has seen the indicators move from 88 to 118 over the years. Some of these new indicators include: how secured is the capital city as well as other towns in the state; state and functionality of the public utilities provided in each state; are the regulatory authorities up and doing with their jobs; and how compliant are the people in responding to the rules and regulations governing business transactions in the state; etc.
The BECANS survey portends maximum benefit to everyone – the various states’ governments, the local and foreign investors, as well as other stakeholders. This is because through the BECANS survey, the investor is able to know which state in the country is more investment friendly; governments are also able to measure their own progress in terms of putting in place investment and business friendly policies as compared to other states in the country.