Slow progress in business environment reforms for SA cities - World Bank

Construction gets a digital twist. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Construction gets a digital twist. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

A new report by the World Bank shows that the ease of doing business in major South African cities varies significantly, with slow reforms implemented over the last three years.

The report was commissioned by the National Treasury.

The report, titled 'Doing Business in South Africa 2018', surveyed nine major municipalities, namely Cape Town, Buffalo City, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Johannesburg, Mangaung, Msunduzi, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane.

It measured the regulatory environment for small and medium-size enterprises, such as time frames for obtaining construction permits, electricity connection, property registration and trade across borders for port cities.

City of Cape Town shines

It found that no city performed well across all areas measured, with "room for improvement in the facilitation of cross-border trade".

"None of the nine urban areas performs equally well across all indicators. That leaves room for all locations to learn from each other’s good practices."

The City of Cape Town showed major improvement in the time it takes to obtain contraction permits for projects and getting electricity. 

According to the 2018 report, Cape Town outperformed the average for OECD high-income economies. 

"Conversely, Tshwane’s score places it in the bottom half of global economies, behind Eswatini and just ahead of Namibia."

Mangaung excels

Johannesburg registered an improvement in property registration, described as one of the fastest in the country.

"Mangaung excels in property registration….it also maintains a lead in enforcing contracts, with the lowest cost for commercial litigation in the country," said the report.

The city halved the time needed to transfer property from seven weeks to three weeks.

"Over the past three years, five locations implemented reforms making it easier to do business. Most reforms focused on getting electricity, with one related to registering property." The report noted that the pace of reforms had been slow.

Speaking at the unveiling of the unveiling of the report in Pretoria, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mondli Gungubele, stressed the role played by cities in driving economic development.

"Each city government has something to learn, through international benchmarking and through domestic peer-learning processes," he said.

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