Progress is progress. The latest World Bank annual ratings reveal that Nigeria has made progress in the ease of doing business indicators. The country is now ranked 145 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business list. The new ranking is a 14 percent improvement on the 169th position Nigeria had in 2016.

A statistical analysis, properly conducted, is a delicate dissection of uncertainties, a surgery of suppositions. – M.J. Moroney

Expectedly, this new ease of doing business ranking is seen as a cause for cheers in several quarters, particularly in government and among those who have business to do in these parts. The new ease of doing business ranking is progress.

The ease of doing business index is an index created by the World Bank Group. Higher rankings (a low numerical value) indicate better, usually simpler, regulations for businesses and stronger protections of property rights. It is statistics that the World Bank uses to show progress of reforms, improvement in the business environment and benefits of new regulations and policies.

Nigerians however, are wary of statistics, especially those actively promoted by government officials. It is not surprising because these same government officials will hide everything else. So Nigerians have learnt to take with a pinch of salt statistics that they (government officials and politicians) decide to promote.

It is precisely this knack for hiding figures that have prevented the country from conducting a viable and accepted population census, kept the wage structure of the national assembly members a secret and how state government spent (are spending) bailout funds a mystery. It is easy to agree with Andrew Lang that“Politicians use statistics in the same way that a drunk uses lampposts — for support rather than illumination.”

Who can forget a recent rebasing exercise that overnight made Nigeria the biggest economy in Africa without a corresponding improvement in the life of the citizens? I digress.

The ranking is encouraging. It is progress. It shows that some things are working, although citizens may not yet be able to experience the benefits.

Data is the sword of the 21st century, those who wield it well, the Samurai. – Jonathan Rosenberg

Here are five essentials from the Report:

5 Essentials About the Report

  • A nation’s ranking on the index is based on the average of 10 sub-indices: Starting a business, Dealing with construction permits, Getting electricity, Registering property, Getting credit, Protecting investors, Paying taxes, Trading across borders, Enforcing contracts, and Resolving insolvency.
  • Details from the latest ranking indicate that Nigeria improved in 7 of the 10 sub-indices thus placing the country among the 10 most improved countries in the World Bank’s ease of doing business list.
  • Nigeria improved the most in the following sub-indices – Starting a business (online registration of businesses and reduced turnaround time); Getting construction permits; Registering property; Getting credit; and Payment of taxes (electronic payment and filing).
  • The three problem areas include Protecting investors, Trading across borders, and Resolving insolvency. So clearly the Nigerian government has its work cut out for it. It knows the areas to focus on while not neglecting the other supposedly improved sub-indices.
  • There was a marginal increase in ease of doing business score for ‘Getting Electricity’. It is worrying. Electricity is a critical component of ease of doing business. Today 80 percent of citizens still generate over 75 percent of their energy needs and the cost of diesel continues its rise unabated with many organizations now paying more for self generation of energy than say six months ago.

With this report a certain amount of celebratory back clapping is allowed, but only for a short while as we urgently need to get right back to work. Undoubtedly, to continue to improve priority must be given to the problems areas Protecting investors, Trading across borders, Resolving insolvency and getting electricity. Yes Getting (steady) Electricity is ultra important for ease of doing business.

When every day Nigerians truly begin to ‘feel’ the impact of these “ease of doing business” ranking then maybe we can better begin to appreciate the statistics.

Elvis Eromosele, Chief Content Officer at De Royale Hall Resources, an educational and content development firm.



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