Last updated at 13:38 GMT, Friday, 06 November 2009

Business in Africa to change

Summary

6 November 2009

The International Finance Corporation has recently issued its annual assessment of how easy or difficult it is to do business around the world. Africa comes out as the hardest, but it is beginning to change.

Reporter:
Martin Plaut

A web entrepreneur in Ghana

A web entrepreneur in Ghana

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Report

In the past there has really only been one way to describe the climate towards business almost anywhere in Africa - distinctly hostile. Mountains of forms to fill in, complex, sometimes contradictory regulations and bored, uninterested civil servants. But, says one of the authors of this report, Sylvia Solf, change is on the way.

Sylvia Solf
'Over the past three years this trend has been reversing and this year, two thirds of the reforms globally have been taking place in developing countries and in Africa more than half of the countries of the continent have reformed. This is really a very new development and it's a very exciting development.'

Regulations are being scrapped. One stop shops at which businesses can be registered are being set up. Many forms can now be accessed online. At the frontline of these reforms is the island of Mauritius, which is already as easy to operate in as many developed countries. Rwanda, Liberia and Burkina Faso have also made real progress to improve the climate for business.

But many other African nations, among them some of the poorest countries on earth, like Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Swaziland, have made no moves in this direction. Some, like Tanzania, have even gone backwards. Extracting bribes from businessmen to get round the obstacles may be one reason why some of the continent's leaders have failed to take the path of reform.

Martin Plaut, BBC News

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Vocabulary

distinctly hostile

clearly unfavourable and therefore difficult

contradictory regulations

rules which say very different things, making it impossible to follow, or observe all of them

civil servants

people who work for the government

change is on the way

the situation will be different soon

trend has been reversing

the way things used to be has been changing recently

one stop shops

a one stop shop is where you are able to do everything in one place

at the frontline

here, the country which is making most of the changes

extracting bribes

getting money illegally in exchange for assistance or help

to get round the obstacles

to find a way of overcoming difficulties

to take the path of reform

to support and introduce the changes

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