Rwanda has been named the 29th easiest place to do business in the world according to the 2019 World Bank Doing Business index of the world’s most business-friendly economies.
The World Bank assessed 190 countries
The 2019 World Bank Doing Business Report show that Rwanda is the only Low-Income Country (LIC) in the Top 30, and the only one in the Top 100.
Nearly 75% of the Top 30 are High-Income Countries (HICs) with per annual per capita income above $12,000
Rwanda remains #2 in the world for ease of registering property, and #3 in the world for quality of credit information systems and procedures. In 2018, Rwanda also returns to the list of the Top 10 biggest reformers over the previous year
Rwanda improved its rank on ease of starting a business by replacing the electronic billing machine system with free software from the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) that allows taxpayers to issue VAT invoices from any computer
Since 2005, Rwanda’s consistent focus on business climate reform has produced the biggest cumulative improvement of all countries measured by Doing Business, rising from a low of 37.4/100 in 2005 (ranking worse than #150 globally), to 77.68/100 in 2018 (#29)
What this means in real terms: (1) It took 354 days on average to register property a in 2005; in 2018 it takes an average of 7 days. (2) It cost the equivalent of 317% of annual per capita income to register a new business in 2005; it costs less than 15% in 2018
Insights from the biggest reformer, Rwanda
Economies that do well in Doing Business generally have a strong e-government to deliver services to citizens and firms. E-government also cuts red tape and reduces corruption, said Rita Ramalho, Senior Manager of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group
Strong leadership was key to reforms in Rwanda, Georgia, and Colombia – the first countries to be inspired by Doing Business to reform their regulations.
Rwanda and Georgia are the first and second biggest reformers in the history of Doing Business, and Rwanda was again a top reformer this year.
“You need to have strong leadership in a sustained and broad way,” said Ramalho. “Doing Business reforms tend to span across government. It’s important to have leadership at the top saying we need to do this.”
In Rwanda, there was consensus in the years following the genocide and civil war that the private sector must be the key driver of economic transformation.
The government set out to create an environment that would enable businesses and investments to thrive, said Louise Kanyonga, Head of the Rwanda Development Board’s Strategy and Competitiveness Department.
“Rwanda has adopted a very bold and ambitious approach to reforming its business environment,” she said. “We benchmark ourselves against the best performers in the world and we think big.”
She said Doing Business inspired reforms in key areas:
Registering property: The reform with the biggest impact. Rwanda completely overhauled the land system to establish property rights and digitized the land registry.
Starting a business: Business registrations more than doubled after introducing electronic online business registration. Rwanda has reduced the amount of time needed to start a business from 43 days to a mere 4 days today.
Getting credit: Modern secured transactions laws offering strong protections to secured creditors have increased confidence among lenders and expanded access to finance
Paying taxes: Simplified tax systems and regulatory reforms increased tax compliance and resulted in higher tax revenues. The small, landlocked African nation has become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with a rapidly urbanizing middle class.
Kanyonga said private investments have grown by 60% over the last 8 years, and foreign direct investment alone has grown by close to 40%.
Yet there is still much to do.
Rwanda now needs to position itself as a future-ready economy that can compete on the global stage, she said.
“We need to ensure that we are equipping our people with the skills for the future and increasing the adoption of technology and innovation among our firms.”