Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi recently issued a decree to allocate new swathes of land to the Armed Forces, doing little to fend off ... intensifying criticism against the military’s deeply entrenched economic involvement as the North African nation’s financial woes mount.
“A number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports,” the global institution said in a statement on August 27.
The institution said it had informed the authorities of the most affected countries, but did not name them. “We will act based on the findings and will retrospectively correct the data of countries that were most affected by the irregularities,” the statement added.
The Wall Street Journal reported that data on China, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia “appeared to have been inappropriately altered.”
If confirmed, the revised data could affect the rankings of the five countries. The latest report, for example, showed vast improvement among Middle Eastern economies with Saudi Arabia climbing 30 places.
The latest report, published last year, ranked Togo and Nigeria among the 10 countries that had shown the most improvement and collectively accounted for “one-fifth of all the reforms recorded worldwide.”
There are no reports that either the scores of either country were tampered with.
In the report, only two Sub-Saharan economies, Mauritius and Rwanda, ranked among the top 50.
Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, and Togo ranked among the top 100 while South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia ranked among the lowest globally.
The article continues below
Get your free PDF: Top 500 african companies 2019
Your guide to Africa's leading corporates
Complete the form for your free download of The Africa Report’s 2019 Exclusive Ranking of Africa’s top 500 companies from last year. Get your free PDF by completing the following form.
The decision to suspend the rankings is also likely to reignite controversy around the annual report, particularly in the methodologies behind the rankings.
In the 17 years it has been published, the Doing Business reports have amassed “surprising influence over global regulatory policies,” researchers wrote in a paper published in 2019. The researchers found that the rankings strongly affect policy as governments make reforms to improve their ranking.
“Changes over time in the Doing Business rankings are not particularly meaningful. They largely reflect changes in methodology and sample—which the World Bank makes every year, without correcting earlier numbers—not changes in reality on the ground,” Researchers at the Center for Global Development wrote in February 2018.
In June, the Bretton Woods institution appointed Carmen Reinhart as its new chief economist. Reinhart’s two predecessors, Penelope Koujianou Goldberg and Paul Romer, resigned after less than two years on the job.
- Romer quit in January 2018 after igniting a controversy around Chile’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Report, which he suggested may have been deliberately lowered under the presidency of left-leaning Michelle Bachelet.
The World Bank is also struggling to counter the fallout from the publication of an internal paper that looks at elite capture of foreign aid.
The key finding of the study is that aid handouts “coincide with significant increases in deposits held in offshore financial centres known for bank secrecy.”
Pinelopi Goldberg quit in February, effective 1 March.
Understand Africa's tomorrow... today
We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.View subscription options