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Doing Business: How Africa Encourages the Informal Economy

It takes less than ten minutes to approve certain documents towards starting a new business in New Zealand. At most, it takes a day to get a business approved to open its doors to customers. And all the procedures are combined into a single step. That is why the World Bank ranked it #2 in its Doing Business 2010 report. This pattern of quick new business approval is similar in most developed nations where it could take from a day to a week. In the United States, it takes about a week to launch a new business.

But move to Africa. It takes 136 days to get approval to start a new business in Equatorial Guinea. Why? Because the country’s Prime Minister must approve all new businesses. Yes, a Prime Minister must approve a small business to be operated by a college student in that country. By moving this approval to the office of the Prime Minister, the nation creates about 20 procedures compared to 1 in New Zealand.

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