The New Times Spoke The Truth About Rwanda’s Global Rankings

By David Himbara

The World Bank dropped Rwanda from 29th to 38th position in the 2020 Doing Business rankings. Rwanda government officials cried foul – they vehemently protested about the steep drop in the rankings. The drop from the 29th to 38th position meant, for example, that Rwanda was no longer ranked higher than countries such as Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and China in the ease of doing business. How the World Bank ever ranked Rwanda higher than Japan and other leading economies is itself a mystery. But that is not the point in this article.

The point here is that the New Times spoke the truth for once.

In its editorial of October 26, 2019, the New Times made the following observation:

“The World Bank Doing Business report is not about setting records but performance. It ranks countries according to their performance basing on several indicators.

Rwanda has been performing relatively well over the years, but this year it slipped a few slots and understandably, it was not happy. It seems the World Bank included a new indicator at the last minute, having at least 10 companies listed on the local Stock Exchange which Rwanda does not.

So, for government officials to dwell so much on the rankings…They should instead look at the performance…The report pointed out areas that need improvement and that is where the focus should be. For example, on the issues of protecting minority shareholders, the score was average. What can be done to improve it?

The same goes for enforcing contracts where it takes 230 days to solve a commercial dispute yet in Singapore, it takes half the time…

That is exactly right. And as the New Times rightly concluded, doing business reports are “not about ranking but how to improve the business climate.” Congratulations to the New Times’ editorial writers for setting the record straight.