What are 'Bureaucratic Bottlenecks'? (Watch Video To End)

- What are 'Bureaucratic Bottlenecks'?

- Where is Nigeria on the Ease of Doing Business Project?

- Why Can't the Nigerian Civil service setup accept technology?

The video below shows a 70-step process of simply dunking a basketball. The process comprises what is known as a Rube Goldberg machine - a complex contraption that employs a chain reaction to perform a simple task. If you can survive the video to the end, then you can understand what 'Bureaucratic Bottlenecks' are. 

That is the typical example of bureaucratic bottlenecks - the lengthy sequence of required but disposable steps you must go through to get business done in a particular place. It is commonly used in Nigerian corporate scenarios. Ease of doing business has been extremely low in Nigeria for decades. 

Where is Nigeria at the Ease-of-Doing-Business Ranking?

The overall cost of doing business in Nigeria is too high - a combination of the time-cost, manpower cost and financial cost, unnecessarily exorbitant. Presently, the country is ranked 131 on the Ease-of-doing-business ranking according to a World Bank website

This was one of the problems that the Federal Government VP President Yemi Osinbajo attempted to dislodge in his brief stint as acting president. It became cheaper to register a business at the Corporate Affairs Commission and the commission's website was also redesigned to make it easier to get information and lodge requests.

The World Bank website notes that Nigeria is one of 10 countries that implemented massive ease-of-doing-business reforms and recorded the most notable improvements. These 10 countries were responsible for 1/5th of global Ease-of-doing-business reforms in 2018/2019.

Between 2019 and 2020, Nigeria also gained an overall 3.5% in Ease-of-Doing-Business score. An aspect like 'Dealing with construction permits' gained a significant 14.6% increase year on year. Getting electricity even improved by 4.8%.

One can only hope that the Federal Government does not make laws that could damage these records. Recent agitations from the citizens could pressurize them to adopt political measures that could frustrate gains made. An example is the rumoured Social Media bill allegedly proposed by key members of the Buhari administration.

Nigerian States?

States in Nigeria seeking to attract FDI have also prioritized making it easier for prospective business men to get information, carry out their researches, acquire administrative and operational licenses. Lagos and Abuja lead in this regard, but an example worth analysing is further south. The Akwa Ibom State Government's aggressive push towards drawing in Foreign investment gave birth to the Governor's setting up of an FDI office.

The Commissioner of Information, Ini Ememobong, when asked during a recent Investment chat online by BPDI, Stratagem 1.0, mentioned that any investor coming into Akwa Ibom, can get every information he needs sitting in one position at the FDI office. How true this is may be contested by people who have independent first hand experience. But the State did fly up the list of preferred FDI destinations in Nigeria - up to 2nd position.

Make it easier to do business in your climate and money will flow in better. Interestingly, despite the efforts of the State Government, Akwa Ibom still ranks near the bottom on the ratings for Ease-of-doing-business. Northern states like Kaduna, Niger, Kano, on the other hand, are doing very well on the ranking.

A quick explanation for the disparity between Akwa Ibom's rating for Ease-of-Doing-Business and attractiveness for FDI is that while FDI is from overseas, Ease-of-Doing-Business is measured based on the experience of local firms.

Among Nigerian states, Akwa Ibom ranks at;

21 for Starting a business

18 for dealing with construction permits

26 for registering property

24 for enforcing contracts

(Source: World Bank)

Bureaucratic Bottlenecks feature more in the Nigerian civil service where technology has hardly been adopted. In that sector, the preferred mode of work is traditional and human-dependent with obvious obsolescence of technology. 

Information is still stored in paper files stacked into large shelves in damp rooms with air heavy with dust and fine particles.

We (Jabborro PR) have begun discussions towards helping several of these Government agencies in Nigeria adopt a more secure data protection and preservation using Amazon Web Service (AWS) for which we hold a license. But word reaching us from people familiar with the Akwa Ibom system has it that we will be resisted. 

Contact Jabborro PR for your Data and Information Protection Training. Click here to see our services

It appears, expectedly, that the civil servants would feel threatened by incoming technology that seeks to make things easier in their offices. They prefer information stored on paper  so that no one's job is threatened. But if fire, for example, breaks out, these files become quick fuel; everything goes up in flames with neither an efficient fire fighting service available nor an adequate recovery plan in place.

How Costly is Making Things Easier?

An example of a comical loss: exhibits and the suit filed against former Lagos Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu were burnt up along with the Igbosere High Court in the wake of the #EndSARS protests in Lagos. Consequently, the former Governor became both target of the protesters' fury after they were attacked in Lagos as well as a beneficiary of the arson that followed. 

Investigations and court proceedings will hence be delayed following this incident. According to one of the Lawyers involved in the case, Tade Ipadeola; "We may have to file the case afresh..."

Back to Uyo when hoodlums broke into important businesses in the aftermath of the same #EndSARS protests and looted valuables, burning offices in their wake, most of the affected establishments lost paper receipts and other physical records. Would they adopt a technologically advanced method of record keeping hence? Even if pre-emptively? It remains to be seen. But their losses are unimaginable.

If any of these businesses would ever get primed to receive incoming equity, they would need those same records now burnt up. Your receipts and invoices, for example, are crucial during valuation. If you cannot get accurate valuation, you turn back the interests of capitalists.

Recovering from a calamity that wipes away your data can be costlier than saving those information where it can never be destroyed using cloud services - as an example. In the same way, technology that enables ease-of-doing-business is cheaper than the outcome of discouraging prospective investors through lethargic, lengthy, Rube Goldberg-esque processes.

Uduak Umo is a Public Relations & Media Relations specialist, Investor Relations consultant, SEO and Social Media Marketing expert. He writes this piece from Uyo, Nigeria.