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The reforms behind the Doing Business rankings

Cecile Fruman's picture

In Mozambique in 2003, it took an entrepreneur 168 days to start a business. Today, it takes only 19 days. That kind of transformation has major implications for ambitious men and women who are seeking to make a mark in business, or, as is often the case in Africa, seeking to move beyond a life in agriculture. In economies with sensible, streamlined regulations, all it takes is a good idea, and a couple of weeks, and an entrepreneur is in business.

This week, the World Bank Group launched its annual Doing Business 2016 report, which benchmarks countries based on their progress undertaking business reforms that make it easier for local businesses to start up and operate.

For the second straight year, Singapore topped the list, with New Zealand, Denmark, the Republic of Korea, and Hong Kong SAR, China, coming in closely behind.

In the developing world, standouts included Kenya and Costa Rica, both of which rose 21 positions; Mauritius, Sub-Saharan Africa’s top-ranked economy; Kazakhstan, which moved up 12 places to rank 41st among all countries; and Bhutan, which topped South Asia’s list of reformers. In the Middle East and North Africa, 11 of the region’s 20 economies achieved 21 reforms despite the challenges caused by a number of civil and interstate conflicts.
The reforms tracked by Doing Business are implemented by governments, but the results show up most in the private sector, which is critical to driving a country’s competitiveness and to creating jobs. Ensuring an enabling environment in which the private sector can operate effectively is an important marker of how well an economy is positioned to compete globally. 
For those of us working with governments to help improve their investment climates – and to create a policy environment in which business regulatory costs are reasonable, access to finance is open, technology is shared, and trade flows within and across borders – the real work begins long before the Doing Business rankings are published.

In the World Bank Group’s Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice (T&C), our mandate is to work with developing countries to unleash the power of their private sector for growth. Much of this work involves reforms in the very areas measured in the Doing Business report: starting a business, dealing with construction formalities, or trading across borders, among other factors.

Our experience working with clients confirms one of this year’s key findings: Regulatory efficiency and quality go hand-in-hand. A good investment climate requires well-designed regulations that protect property rights and facilitate business operations while safeguarding other people’s rights as well as their health, their safety and the environment.

A conference to improve public finance management in Francophone Africa

Samia Msadek's picture

Also available in: French

Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank.

This week, officials from finance ministries and leaders of the accounting profession from across Francophone Africa will gather in Dakar, Senegal from Oct 28 to 30 to chart a path forward in their countries’ development. They will focus on an area that is often ignored, but is vital to national success and prosperity: public financial management. They will focus on financial reporting, which is also known as “the way governments keep track of your money.”

This topic is important to you, citizens of the world, of the African continent. How governments manage their taxes, their borrowing, their spending, and the ways they account for these forms of transactions – income, borrowing and expenditure – are essential to economic growth, to poverty-reduction, and to ensuring that the region’s poorest can improve their lives.

In many parts of Francophone Africa, accounting practices have a lot of room to improve. In particular, financial reporting and auditing need reforms, according to ongoing research by the World Bank and others. Policy-makers do not always have accurate information about the money available to provide vital and quality public services, such as school-teachers or the construction of health clinics or roads.

Unleashing private investment in renewable energy

Korina Lopez's picture
Angus McCrone, Jin-Yong Cai, and Rune Bjerke discuss renewable energy. © Franz Mahr/World Bank

More than 700 million people live in extreme poverty around the world. If that number seems daunting, then consider this: 1.1 billion people – more than three times the population of the United States – live without electricity.

So it goes without saying that ending energy poverty is a key step in ending poverty itself. And world leaders agree – a sustainable development goal just for energy was adopted last month. It emphasizes the role of renewable energy in getting us to the finish line of reaching sustainable energy for all by 2030. What will give us a big boost in that race? Private financing.

Four ways governments are making girls’ lives better

Alua Kennedy's picture

Also available in: العربية

As the International Day of the Girl Child is coming up on October 11, it reminds us of an important role governments can play to help girls lead their own lives. Investing in girls’ empowerment is a smart way to invest in a country.
Check out these four videos about how governments of Liberia, Senegal, India and Burundi are working to empower girls in their countries. 

Are citizen-led assessments raising learning levels?

Marguerite Clarke's picture

Citizen-led assessments (CLAs) emerged in India in 2005 as a way to raise awareness and advocacy around low learning levels, and to act as a force for bottom-up accountability and action that would improve education quality and learning. Thousands of volunteers traveled to rural districts and administered simple reading and math tests to the children in households they visited. The dismal results, published in the 2005 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), helped stimulate debate and prioritize learning in national policy.

Part of the #Youthbiz movement? Share your story!

Valerie Lorena's picture

Also available in: Français | العربية

A boat trip from Port Elizabeth to Kingstown, in the Caribbean country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, is a one-hour trip that locals take several times a day. It was during one of these journeys that the boat of Kamara Jerome, a young Vincentian fisherman, ran out of gas six miles from Bequia City in what is termed locally as the "Bequia Channel." While waiting for help with strong wind gusts and the sun on his head, the idea of developing a boat that would run with wind and solar energy was born. Soon after, the idea became a prototype; a boat using green technology was on the water making 20-year-old Jerome a winner of international innovation competitions and a role model to other Caribbean youth. 
In Mexico, young engineer Daniel Gomez runs a multimillion bio-diesel company originally conceived as a research project for his high school chemistry class. Gomez and his partners - Guillermo Colunga, Antonio Lopez, and Mauricio Pareja - founded SOLBEN (Solutions in bio-energy in Spanish) in their early twenties. 
Although Daniel and Kamara have different educational backgrounds, they do share one important skill, the ability to identify a problem, develop an innovative solution, and take it to the market. In other words, being an entrepreneur, an alternative to be economically active, that seems to work and not only for a few.

Senegal shifts its thinking: Context is everything

Oumar Diallo's picture
Editor's note: this is the second in a two-part series. Click here to read the first part, "Senegal shifts its thinking: Rural water delivery moves to private operators."
Photo: flickr/Julien Harnels

In the rural water sector in Senegal, as with many parts of the world that have experienced tremendous changes, context is everything. Rarely does one single act spur a shift at the government level; many elements combine to prompt a change in approach.

The PPP team in Senegal was privileged to be able to develop a brand-new system for rural water delivery in Senegal (see previous post here), but our activity was just one contributing factor in a much larger national and even international effort. The political context in Senegal, along with sustained attention to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), created the right atmosphere for this PPP.   
Here are five important elements that came together to make Senegal’s paradigm-shifting PPP possible:
  1. Government officials’ forward-thinking views. Coming up with an original plan for the delivery of rural water depended on zoning changes. Our group’s internal study showed that dividing the country into three zones would make it possible to cluster services. Government’s willingness to consider clustering pipe systems across 14 regions was critical, because it made support from the private sector a viable option.

Senegal shifts its thinking: Rural water delivery moves to private operators

Oumar Diallo's picture
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Overnight success takes years, as the saying goes – and that’s certainly the case for the delivery of water to rural regions of Senegal. On July 2, 2015, the Government of Senegal celebrated the signing of its first lease (affermage) contract in the rural water sector, the result of a partnership that marks a significant and promising shift in rural water management for the country. This success in Senegal was years in the making, dating back about 15 years to the start of Senegal’s reform process.

Though Senegal’s situation is unique, insights and lessons from the project can inform and strengthen other rural water PPPs as well.
What changed, and why it matters 
In Senegal’s earlier period of reform, government officials looked to community-based management for 1,500 rural water piped systems to serve the 7.5 million people in need of water services across 14 rural regions. (Senegal is divided into three large geographic zones – North, South and Central – with ongoing transactions in smaller areas like Gorom Lampsar and Notto-Diosmone-Palmarin, known as GL-NDP, and the Senegal River region.) At that time, officials thought this would be the best way to eventually scale up management of the rural water system. By 2010, though, discussions between the World Bank Group and the Government of Senegal pushed reform forward by including more private sector management, which also aimed to increase sustainability of the system. 

Global Financing Facility and a new era for development finance

Tim Evans's picture

This week at the Third International Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, we’ve seen the birth of a new era in global health financing.
The World Bank Group, together with our partners in the United Nations, Canada, Norway, and the United States, just launched the Global Financing Facility in support of Every Woman Every Child.  It’s hard to believe it’s been less than 10 months since the GFF was first announced at the 2014 UN General Assembly by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada and Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway.  We’re grateful to the hundreds of representatives from developing countries, UN agencies, bilateral and multilateral development partners, civil society and the private sector who have contributed their time, ideas, and expertise to inform and shape the design of the GFF to get it ready to become operational.