Home MethodologySources of Information

Sources of Information

Here below we provide a summary presentation of the main sources of information used to identify the investment climate indicators and to populate the database. For a fuller description, please refer to the web links provided.

World Bank - Doing Business (http://www.doingbusiness.org/)

The World Bank Doing Business (WBDB) is possibly the most famous source of information on the investment climate, providing a ranking of countries with respect to various aspects of the regulatory environment, such as the time taken and costs associated with starting or closing a business, getting credit, hiring and firing workers, etc. Data are easily accessible on line and cover all ECOWAS countries. Lately, the usefulness of Doing Business indicators for comparative purposes as well as for measuring the impact of reforms has been challenged by some authors. A review of the issues raised can be found in recent report issued by the World Bank (Doing Business: An Independent Evaluation, 2008). The evaluation report is available on line at:


World Bank - Enterprise Surveys (https://www.enterprisesurveys.org)

The World Bank Enterprise Surveys (WBES) are aimed at gaining a better understanding of factors shaping private enterprises' decisions and performance. They cover a variety of aspects including obstacles to doing business, infrastructure, finance, labor, corruption and regulation, law & order, innovation & technology, trade, and firm productivity. Simplified datasets are easily accessible on line at no cost, whereas access to the full datasets requires a specific authorization. At the time of writing, fairly recent simplified datasets (i.e. 2006 and onwards) are available for 13 ECOWAS countries. In the case of Benin, the dataset is pretty old (2004) and there are no data for Togo. However, these gaps are expected to be filled soon, as several WBES are currently ongoing or expected to be completed during 2009.

World Bank - World Development Indicators


The World Development Indicators (WDI) constitute one of the broadest sets of statistical data available, including more than 800 indicators subdivided in six categories (people, environment, economy, states and market, global links - i.e. trade and international financial relations). An even larger data set, including some 1,400 indicators and covering also financial flows, has been developed for African countries (African Development Indicators). Data originate from a variety of national and international sources, with some overlapping with other sources indicates here. For instance, the Business Environment sub section (part of the States & Markets section) is largely based on the Doing Business Indicators). Some data can be accessed on line at no cost whereas the full data set is sold at US$ 200. The WDI available at the time of writing include data up to the year 2007. The data set covers the ECOWAS countries, although there can be occasionally some gaps.

World Bank - Trade Logistics in the Global Economy


The study on Trade Logistics in the Global Economy is a recent initiative of the World Bank and the Turku School of Economics. The study reviews logistics operations and their performance, taking into account a variety of factors. These elements are combined to produce the Logistics Performance Index. Data can be easily accessed on line at no cost. The data set covers all the ECOWAS countries, with the only exception of Cape Verde.

World Economic Forum - Global Competitiveness Report  (http://www.weforum.org/en/initiatives/gcp/)

The World Economic Forum (WEF) produces the well known Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), intended to measure the overall competitiveness of countries. The GCI is built upon 113 variables, structured into 12 "pillars", with each pillar representing an area considered as an important determinant of competitiveness (institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, innovation). Data for about two thirds of the variables come from an Executive Opinion Survey, organized by WEF, while the rest comes from publicly available sources. Information is easily accessible on line at no cost. The latest edition covers seven ECOWAS countries, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal.

UNCTAD (http://www.unctad.org/Templates/Page.asp?intItemID=2441&lang=4)

UNCTAD is the best source of information on foreign direct investments (FDI), covering both flows and stocks. Raw data (expressed in monetary terms) originate from different national and international sources and are combined by UNCTAD to produce rankings and some aggregate indexes (FDI Performance Index, Inward FDI Potential Index, etc.). Information is easily accessible on line at no cost and covers all the ECOWAS countries, with the exception of Liberia.

Other UN Agencies

Specialized UN agencies produce a variety of data sets. In most cases, these data are already incorporated into other sources, notably the World Development Indicators, but there are some exceptions. Two UN agencies are particularly relevant for the our purposes, namely:

Data are easily accessible on line at no cost. In principle, data sets cover all the ECOWAS countries, but there can be gaps and/or delays in the updating.

Country Risk Indicators

Country risk indicators are produced by rating agencies, such as S&P, Moody's and Fitch, as well as by export credit agencies, such as France's COFACE, Britain's Export Credit Guarantee Department, etc. Ratings from rating agencies are available in a summary form through the MIGA-managed Political Risk Insurance Center (http://www.pri-center.com). Data for COFACE are available through the company's websites (www.trading-safely.com/ and www.risque-pays.coface.fr). Country risk classifications are also issued by the participants in the arrangement on officially supported export credits, the so called Consensus. These ratings are available through the OECD (http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/47/29/3782900.pdf). All these data are easily accessible on line at no cost. In principle, data sets cover all the ECOWAS countries, but there can be gaps depending upon the specific source (e.g. rating agencies currently do not consider Liberia).

Heritage Foundation (http://www.heritage.org)

The Heritage Foundation (a conservative American think tank) publishes annually the Economic Freedom Index and 10 sub indicators covering specific themes (business freedom, trade freedom, etc.). In turn, the indicators are based on a number of specific variables, taken from a variety of secondary sources, including some already analyzed here (e.g. the World Bank Doing Business). Easily accessible on line at no cost. Covers all the ECOWAS countries.

Transparency International (www.transparency.org)

Transparency International publishes annually the Corruption Perception Index, (CPI) which provides scores and ranking of countries. The CPI is calculated on the basis of various secondary sources, including assessments formulated by international organizations, think tanks, and public opinion poll organizations. Information is easily accessible on line at no cost and covers all the ECOWAS countries.