The report found South Africa also introduced a new reorganisation process to help rehabilitate financially distressed companies. Across sub-Saharan Africa regulatory reform had been broadening, with 13 economies implementing reforms to make it easier to do business in three or more areas, the World Bank said.
The top five economies where doing business was easiest were Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the United States, and Denmark.
South Africa improved significantly in the starting a new business category, moving up from 74 last year to 44. It now took five procedures to start a business, one less than the previous year, and 19 days, in contrast to last year's 22 days. There had also been long-term improvement, as in 2004 it took nine procedures and 38 days to start a business.
South Africa improved 14 positions in the ease of registering property coming in at 76 this year. "Registering property requires six procedures, takes 23 days and costs 5.6% of the property value," according to the report.
Dealing with construction permits held its rank over the two years at 31. "According to data collected by Doing Business, dealing with construction permits requires 13 procedures, takes 127 days and costs 21.2% of income per capita," the report found.
South Africa ranked number 1, which it shared with the United Kingdom, in the ease of getting credit. It was ranked 10th for protecting investors, the same position as last year.
Enforcing contracts improved from 85 to 81 and resolving insolvency also gained ground from 79 to 77.
However, when it came to getting electricity for new buildings, South Africa's ranking dropped from 122 to 124. This was worse than the sub-Saharan regional average ranking of 122. Mauritius was 44th in getting electricity, Botswana was 91, Namibia 105, and Kenya 115, all ahead of South Africa.
SA lapsed from 18 to 44 in the ease of paying taxes. "On average, firms make nine tax payments a year, spend 200 hours a year filing, preparing and paying taxes and pay total taxes amounting to 24.4%," the World Bank said.
The report assesses regulations affecting domestic firms in 183 economies and ranks the economies in 10 areas of business.