“Let us provide the business community with the necessary tools to carry out their operations in a predictable, transparent and fair manner and let the private sector walk alongside us by taking a measure of responsibility for growing a prosperous, empowered and equitable society. Let the public-private sector alliance be built on good governance, transparency and accountability.” H.E. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius
Mauritius is a breathtakingly beautiful tropical island of 1.3 million inhabitants and an upper middle-income economy positioned in the Indian Ocean at a strategic converging point for Africa, Asia and Australia. “Mauritius is a gateway to Africa, and is one of the superior places in terms of establishing your services,” says Sanjiv Bhasin, Chief Executive Officer, AfrAsia. “The service industry can penetrate any economy from here.” The nation set out about reinventing itself after its independence in 1968, becoming not only one of the most stable democracies in Africa, but one whose prosperous diverse economy aims to achieve high-income status by 2025.
“Let us provide the business community with the necessary tools to carry out their operations in a predictable, transparent and fair manner and let the private sector walk alongside us by taking a measure of responsibility for growing a prosperous, empowered and equitable society. Let the public-private sector alliance be built on good governance, transparency and accountability.”H.E. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius
With only half a century since its independence, Mauritius has come a long way due to the implementation of its diversification policies which have fortified its local economy. The accomplishment of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have played a key role. Using a social platform, the SDGs address youth unemployment, while implementing technology and innovation to push Mauritius to the next level, with a specific focus upon the protection of its marine and terrestrial ecosystems against climate change. Its aim is to be simultaneously a model of sustainability, a green destination and a fully fledged ocean economy. “With the help of the Mauritius Oceanographic Institute, we are currently working on wave energy,” states Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Hon. Ivan Leslie Collendavelloo, GCSK, SC. “We have launched a prototype, which is an entirely Mauritian concept, developed by five scientists of the Mauritius Oceanographic Institute; the technology is there.” In January 2020, Mauritius implemented a fisheries and acquaculture reform programme in order to empower SMEs while promoting acquaculture through PPPs. “The island aims to be sustainable,” states Sanjiv Bhasin, CEO of Afrasia Bank. “We are concentrating on how we can adapt sustainable technologies and methods to doing business and conducting business in the corporate way and carry that forward.”
Mauritius has understood the importance of focusing upon fostering a conducive business environment in order to strengthen the island’s position as leading investment destination. Mark van Beuningen, Chief Executive Officer of CIM Finance, affirms: “If you look at Mauritius as a base for growing a business in Africa, it has a very stable climate. It is very easy to do business here, there are very strong financial services regulations and the legal framework is very strong as well.” Mauritius ranked 13 out of 190 countries according to the Ease of Doing Business Report in 2019, while coming in absolute first in Africa in the World Bank Doing Business report for 2020 and the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. It is also amongst the top 30 countries in the world on a further eight indicators, as well as amongst the top 10 countries in terms of business facilitation for ‘Paying Taxes’ and ‘Dealing with construction permits.’ It appears clear that the rapid growth of its economy is no miracle but a result of perseverance and policy. “Mauritius is a country where investors over the years have seen that there is certainty and stability,” declares Ravin Dajee, Managing Director of Absa Mauritius. “Rule of law applies and we have educated and skilled talent, ready to add value.”
The government has set upon itself to take significant measures to support SMEs, including setting up a US$12 million SME fund, encouraging the ‘Made in Mauritius’ brand. Focusing upon the implementation of sustainable development programmes, Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) is an example of how the nation supports entrepreneurship and innovation in the country. “SMEs contribute about 40% of the country’s GDP, at MCB, we believe it can go up to 60%.,” declares Raoul Gufflet, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of MCB. “SMEs can be the framework of a parachute that can land Mauritius in this high-income country track. We are currently focusing upon manufacturing, biopharming, agriculture, waste management, recycling, and technology sectors.”
As a multiethnic, multi-religious, multicultural and multilingual nation, Mauritius is also the most liberalised country on the continent. In these uncertain times, it is also a robust model and example of the importance and strength of unity in diversity, never has its 50th anniversary slogan ‘Lame Dan Lame’ (meaning hand-in-hand) been so pertinent and crucial to its resilient development. Mohammed Shamshir Mukoon, General Manager of Central Electricity Board (CEB) agrees: “Our people are very versatile and we have structures available to satisfy all the different cultures we receive. We are very mixed ourselves, so, it’s easier for us to feel and welcome investors in the country and meet their expectations.” The key to Mauritius’ success appears to lie in its aptitude to inject innovation into its economic policies combined with a dose of pragmatism in its effective and efficient policies; an idyllic business landscape whereby global civilisations converge and prosper.