Real Estate News - Doing business in Africa

The World Bank and International Finance Corporation released a report last September ranking countries around the world on their economic reforms and ease of doing business within the country.

For the first time, two sub-Sahara African countries, Ghana and Tanzania, placed in the top 10 of global reformers for 2005-2006. The following is a condensed look at efforts by some countries to make doing business within their borders easier.

Ghana: Ranked the top reformer in Africa due to efforts to change its trade, tax, and property administration rules. Also introduced ways for traders to process their paperwork easier at customs and reduced clearance wait times. The government also reduced corporate tax rates.

Tanzania: Reduced the cost of registering new businesses by 40 per cent and also introduced a new electronic customs clearance system and risk-based inspections of cargo to reduce turnaround time. The country also revised its law to better protect small investors.

Nigeria: Through large-scale reforms to improve court efficiency, the time needed to resolve simple commercial cases was cut from 730 days to 457, while nearly one-third are resolved before going to court. Property registration times were cut, and customs clearance wait times were reduced.

Rwanda: Reorganized its court structure and introduced a specialized commercial division in the high court. The number of authorized notaries was increased from one to 33, resulting in reduced registration times for new businesses. Corporate income tax was also reduced from 35 per cent to 30.

Kenya: Replaced its paper-based customs administration with an electronic data interface system. Traders can electronically submit their customs declarations and pay for customs duties online, meaning importing times were cut. Also eliminated 26 licensing requirements for businesses, with a proposed cut of 92 more.

Niger: Sped up new company registration from 35 to 24 days by permitting legal clerks to continue with registration while founders obtain their criminal records, previously a prerequisite. It also cut compliance costs by standardizing inspections of construction sites and limited the total number to two.

Mauritius: Launched a public credit information bureau within the central bank to collect and distribute credit information. Now lenders can check the credit history for 10 per cent of Mauritian adults before extending them loans. Mauritius also made property transfers easier with a 50 per cent cut in the registration tax: from 10 per cent to five percent of the property's value.

Mali: Eased construction requirements by placing a time limit on obtaining a building permit. It also streamlined on-site inspections. These reforms cut construction time by two months and reduced the cost by 36 per cent.

Burundi: Cut the time to resolve simple business disputes from 433 to 403 days. It also adopted its first bankruptcy law, providing more detailed guidelines for administrators and setting time limits for accomplishing major steps in closing down the business.

Lesotho: Computerized its tax system and unified VAT and income tax registration forms. Tax registration for new companies can now be accomplished in one day. Time for businesses to comply with tax regulations decreased from 564 to 352 hours annually.

Benin, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Uganda: Eased registration requirements for new companies, making it easier for them to operate in the formal sector and facilitating their access to credit, allowing them to grow.

Botswana, the Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Seychelles, South Africa, and Swaziland: Strengthened property rights by making it easier to transfer titles on real estate.

The Doing Business Report 2007 was based on consultations with 5,000 local experts, including consultants, lawyers, accountants, government officials and academics from around the world.

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