By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJAâ€”THE World Bank said, yesterday, that Nigeria needed to develop at more than three times its present rate if it hoped to become one of the most industrialized economies in the world by 2020.
Meantime, the country has been ranked 125 out of 183 economies in this yearâ€™s Doing Business Report, published annually by the World Bank and its partners, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, UKAID.
The World Bank Country Director, Mr. Onno Ruhl, said in Abuja at the presentation of the Doing Business Report, that the country needed to improve in the areas of business regulation if it must achieve its Vision 20:2020 targets.
He said: â€œAchieving the Vision 20:2020 means that Nigeria has to be in a hurry. When we have information as provided by the Doing Business Report 2010 about how we can improve and in what areas, decisions have to be made very quickly.
â€œThe Vision is about Nigeria wanting to be ambitious. Indeed, we are not close to achieving it given the present-day growth indices, but the rate of progress can be very fast and the key to achieving it is to start running fast.â€
Meanwhile, the Doing Business in Nigeria 2010 report showed that Nigerian states had been actively reforming to encourage business activity over the past two years. Lagos represented the country in the annual Doing Business Report, which compared 183 economies.
The results showed that eight of 11 states evaluated in the 2008 report had improved in at least one of the areas measured between June 2008 and January 2010. It added that 14 reforms were recorded, 11 of which focused on property registration and construction permits.
Ruhl said: â€œOverall, it is easiest to do business in Jigawa, Gombe and Borno and most difficult in Imo and Ogun states. Kano State is the top reformer, with reforms in three out of four indicators, namely: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, and enforcing contracts.
â€œIn Nigeria, secure property titles exist for less than five per cent of the land area, keeping 90 per cent of businesses in the informal sector without access to credit. It is a well-known fact across the financial world that if you donâ€™t have a solid property title, you find it hard to get credit.
â€œProperty registration is extremely important. For one, if you cannot transfer property easily and quickly to get credit as a business you cannot expand. With a solid title you can get security to enable you access credit for business growth. Reforms that make it easier to get property titles and streamline regulatory compliance can yield big payoffs in terms of job creation.â€
Also speaking, the World Bank Group Vice President and Head of Network, Financial and Private Sector Development, Mr. Janamitra Devan, said: â€œEfficient, accessible and simple regulations could unleash the natural entrepreneurship of small and midsize firms in Nigeria even further.â€
He said the report â€œunravels a dynamic synergy in which all states can learn from the local regulations and practices of their peers. For example, publishing court statistics online can improve court efficiency, as was shown in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which could rank among one of the top 35 fastest cities to enforce a contract in the world.â€
Devan said the project was part of the Sub-national Investment Climate programme, which supported state governments in improving their business environments, adding that it was the governmentâ€™s response to its National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS, and the Country Partnership Strategy, CPS, between the government, the United Kingdomâ€™s Department for International Development,Â and the World Bank.