Sierra Leone is now one of the easiest place to start a business in West Africa according to Doing Business 2009, the sixth in an annual analysis of the ease of doing business in 181 economies published by IFC and the World Bank.
The ranking is attributed to Sierra Leone’s recent regulatory reforms, which have reduced the time to start a business from 26 to 17 days and cut costs by 95%. The report indicates that reforms have also been made in dealing with construction permits, registering property and trading across borders.
Sierra Leone moved up the overall rankings to 156 (from 160 in 2008) and is now placed ahead of its neighbours in the Mano River Union: Liberia (157), Guinea (171), and Cote D’Ivoire (161).
Sierra Leone ranked seventh among the 15 ECOWAS countries.
Mr. Oluniyi Robbin-Coker, Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Business Forum stated, “The improvement in Sierra Leone’s overall ranking is a clear indicator that when government is focused and committed, there are benefits.” He noted, “However, there is still more work to be done.”
Out of the 10 categories ranked, Sierra Leone made improvements in 4 but declined in 6. One area of decline was employing workers. Victoria Williams, Executive Secretary of the Sierra Leone Indigenous Business Association (SLIBA) commented, “Policy affecting employment of staff needs to be reviewed so that small and medium enterprises are able to function more effectively.”
Another area called to the attention of government was paying taxes. “Lowering taxes and customs duties would make Sierra Leone more attractive for investment,” said Alpha Tanue Jalloh, President of the Sierra Leone Importers Association (SLIA).
President of the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the SLBF, Henry Akintola Macauley stated, “Considerable progress has been made. We note some improvement with land registration. However, more work needs to be done on land registration, as it impacts access to credit.
We are still waiting on fiscal incentives as part of the Investment Promotion Act.”