Recommended Weekly Allowance: Nigerian Presidential Candidates Outline Substantive Differences; Ghana Risks Overpromising on Reform Plans

Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is touring the country's open markets promoting the government's Trader Moni program where low-income traders get the equivalent of USD30 apiece in loans. It exemplifies President Muhammadu Buhari’s statist policy toolkit; and the administration's 2019 manifesto indicates that the posture will be maintained. The All Progressives Congress (APC)'Next Level' manifesto contains promises of more state jobs, more state loans, more subsidies and more state institutions e.g. the creation of two new government banks for entrepreneurs and market traders. 

However, the main opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) has put forward a more liberal manifesto. In it, candidate Atiku Abubakar is promising to build on gains made when he, as vice president, and the then-president Olusegun Obasanjo privatized state assets in industries from telecom to hospitality between 1999 and 2007. Today, the manifesto features plans to privatise ownership or management of the country's refineries, seaports, airports and power transmission firm. It also outlines plans to cut petrol and electricity subsidies and remove barriers to repatriation, while creating partnerships with the private sector to expand key transport infrastructure.

Meanwhile in Ghana, plans are afoot for amendments to the Companies Act that has stood in place since 1963. The goal is to bring the law governing the registration of businesses into the digital age. For example, scrapping of the requirement of a tax identification number (TIN) in favour of the provision of a digital address (aside from for foreigners).

The passage of the act is ambitiously scheduled for the end of 2018 and restructures the Registrar General’s Department to allow for the enforcement of punitive measures that fall foul of the Act by failing to re-register etc. Ghana already performs relatively well on the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings – 108/190 with regards to starting a business – with the process said to take 14 days.

However, our view from Accra suggests that this can be as much as three months if not using the services of unofficial agents known as ‘goro boys’. The introduction of an online business registration has had little impact and the success of the use of the digital addressing system will rely on the implementation of that scheme of which the general public has little practical information.