An improved business climate.

Author:Rabbaa, Nadia

The country has recognised the need to make it easier for businesses to operate if it wants to attract both foreign and local investment. In the past few years it has set up a one-stop-shop making it easier to start a business and revised the investment and mining codes.

IN JULY 2016, THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a disbursement of $ 17.1m for the Republic of Niger under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) granted to the Sahelian country in March 2012. Recognising the government's efforts, the Fund urged Niamey to maintain structural reforms, namely those on revenue mobilisation, debt management and public spending, the management of natural resources and improving the business climate.

The IMF is not the only institution in Washington to recognise the progress the country has made towards improving the ease to do business. The World Bank, in its annual Doing Business ranking, recognised these efforts, helping the country move up the rankings by four spots. The report recognised the improvements especially in terms of the ease to open a business and in the reduction of the procedures and formalities that are needed. Thus reducing the time and costs it takes to open a business. The paid-up capital needed has also been reduced. In effect, the country in this particular category, saw its ranking move up 43 places.

There is now a one-stop shop for companies, and a new commission that houses the Investment Promotion Centre (Centre de Promotion des Investissements --CPI), a business support service and the Centre for business Formalities (Centre de Formalites des Entreprises CFE), all aimed at encouraging entrepreneurs and making life easier for businesses.

"When I started my business three years ago, the procedures were more numerous, slower and more cosdy. I had to visit several administrative bodies such as the Chamber of Commerce, the District Court, the Tax office and the CNSS [social welfare office]. It could take over a month! A minimum capital of CFA1m [$I,670] was also required, excluding start-up costs such as notaries, that could come to at least S800," testifies Mahamadou Seydou Souley, the entrepreneur behind Impact Com & Media, a production company that was created in 2013.

"Since the implementation of the one-stop shop, setting up a business has become much easier. The number of procedures has been reduced, the legal deadline for starting a business was reduced to 72 hours, and the cost is now a total of $2,780 says...

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