Strengthening Economic Growth of Mauritius Through a Coherent, Deepened and Effective Mauritius Africa Strategy. An Advocacy Paper

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1 Strengthening Economic Growth of Mauritius Through a Coherent, Deepened and Effective Mauritius Africa Strategy An Advocacy Paper March 2013

2 The case for doing business on the African continent is very well rehearsed and no longer needs to be made. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the state of the economic and business relations of Mauritius with the African mainland countries and raise a number of questions as to the strength of the strategy with respect to policy intents and the potential for higher achievements. Mauritius has strongly stated its vision and determination to leverage on the opportunities and growth of the African economic space for its own benefit. A number of private sector enterprises have ventured on the mainland in pursuit of their own expansion and growth. Omnicane, Alteo, Terra, Mauritius Commercial Bank, BAI, Afrasia Bank, State Informatics Limited, Softpro, Food and Allied Limited, Innodis, Vita Rice, Star Knitwear, CIEL Textiles, amongst others, are already present and doing business in the region. In some cases, these companies are deriving fifty per cent of their turnover and profit from the region. There are also professional services firm who have been servicing clients on mainland Africa (Straconsult, BDO ex DCDM, MCFI) Mauritius enjoys very high respect and admiration on the African continent. African leaders and government representatives come to Mauritius to (a) learn from policies that underpin the Mauritian success, (b) understand about the specific polices, regulatory framework and the business environment and the How to, (c) to seek advisory services about strategic plans and roadmaps, the how to do s, (d) to attract investment from Mauritius. Mauritius has over the years built a number of important building blocks for mutually beneficial political and economic relations with the mainland. These building blocks must now be complemented with key strategic tools and sustained policy measures to provide a formidable engine of the Mauritius Africa Strategy. Fifteen measures are proposed for a successful highly productive strategy. Government and Public Sector achievements 1. REC Membership. We have negotiated membership and business operating conditions in Regional Economic Communities (RECs), notably SADC and COMESA. Government plays a very active role in the negotiations for policy framework, instruments and terms of doing business in these REC s. SADC and COMESA remain the main focus of our trade in goods dimension with the Continent. That economic space will broaden considerably with the proposed merging of SADC, COMESA and the EAC to create a much wider area of economic cooperation. 2. DTAAs and IPPAs. Mauritius has successfully negotiated and concluded an extensive network of bilateral Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) and Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (IPPAs). These are crucial for tax neutrality and risk mitigation Mauritius is party to 16 DTAAs with its African neighbours. DTAAs have been signed and ratified with Botswana, Senegal, Madagascar, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda, Seychelles, and Tunisia. DTAAs awaiting ratification with Republic of Congo, Zambia and Kenya. DTAAs under negotiation with Algeria, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Egypt, Tanzania and Malawi. Pg 1

3 3. BOI have entered into agreements with its African counterpart Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs). It has signed 15 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the investment promotion agency of Madagascar, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Comoros, Cape Verde, Swaziland, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia and Gabon. The MOUs have been signed to facilitate investment by Mauritian companies in these countries. In the case of Namibia, the MOU was signed in 1998 between the two governments for cooperation in various fields. A Bilateral Trade Agreement has been signed with Kenya and a Joint Trade Commission set up. A similar bilateral trade agreement is being discussed between Mauritius and Tanzania. Uganda has indicated its willingness to enter into one with Mauritius. 4. Diplomatic Representation. Mauritius has four embassies on the mainland, namely in Egypt, Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa. We also have an Embassy in Madagascar Government has recently appointed two roving Ambassadors for Africa with a specific remit to promote greater economic relations with the Continent. Consular Representation. Mauritius has consuls in 5 countries, namely Kenya, Senegal, South Africa (2), Sudan (Khartoum), Zambia. 5. Regional Institutions Hosting. Mauritius now hosts a few institutions that promote regional integration with countries of COMESA, SADC and IOC. The Regional Multidisciplinary Centre of Excellence (RMCE), involving a dozen regional and international organizations and development partners, has been set up and is now operating in Mauritius. The Regional Multidisciplinary Centre of Excellence is a regional training institution hosted by Mauritius and developed with COMESA in consultation with other regional blocs and international partners. RMCE aims at improving Member States professional capacity in addressing issues of Regional Economic Integration (REI) in five core areas of common regional concern, macroeconomic management, trade and transit, cross-border finance, business development and investment as well as common sectoral policies The IMF has decided to locate AFRITAC, a knowledge and training institution for countries of Sub- Saharan Africa, in Mauritius. Mauritius has been selected to host the COMESA Fund. The Fund will play a major role as regional financial vehicles to receive all development funding for COMESA from Aid for Trade, Economic Partnership Agreement and other financial assistance scheme. It has two windows an Adjustment Fund and an Infrastructure Fund. IMF has also located its prestigious Regional Training Institute in Mauritius. 6. Land in Mozambique Mauritius has a land concession in Mozambique. In a recent call for Expression of Interest 1, the Regional Development Company set up by the government of Mauritius indicates that the Government of Mozambique has reserved for lease to the Government of Mauritius some 16,000 hectares of land (10,000 hectares in the Province of Maputo and about 6,000 in the Province of Manica). In the first phase of the project, 10,000 hectares in the Province of Maputo, and about 6,084 hectares in the Province of Manica have been earmarked for Food Security and Renewable Energy projects. 1 Call for Proposals for Rice Production in the context of Food Security and Renewable Energy Projects inmozambique. 21 May 2012 Pg 2

4 7. State to State MOU or Cooperation Agreements. Government of Mauritius has state to state MOU or Cooperation Agreements with Namibia, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon. These MOUs or cooperation agreements are however yet to be acted upon. 8. Regional Development Company. A Regional Development Fund of Rs 50 m to assist Mauritian companies to penetrate the African region was scheduled to be set up. However, it is understood that it has not materialised yet. Instead a Regional Development company has been instituted as a private company managed from the Ministry of Finance. The company is focused on development of land on concession to the State of Mauritius by the Government of Mozambique. The RDC launched an EOI early this year for rice and renewable energy projects on the land. The following statement in the Call for EOI indicates the modus operandi of RDC: It is intended to create an entity that is expected to provide assistance to selected project promoters on an OPTIONAL basis, either through payment of a fee for service arrangement or through cross-shareholding with the entity. 9. International Arbitration Centre. Mauritius has created a new platform in the region for international commercial and investment arbitration. As part of this project, Mauritius has: adopted state-of-the art legislation based on the UNCITRAL Model Law, to best serve the interests of international users (November 2008); concluded a Host Country Agreement with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague pursuant to which the PCA appointed to Mauritius its first overseas representative (April 2009); hosted the inaugural Mauritius International Arbitration Conference in December 2010; cooperated with the LCIA to open a dedicated and state-of-the-art Centre for International Arbitration; and won the bid to host the 2016 Congress of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration. 10. Latest Policy Intentions (Government Programme 2012): Mauritius will use the new economic diplomacy initiative to position Mauritius as the preferred gateway for investment into Africa, particularly from India and China. Government will encourage the financial sector to provide fully integrated services and more actively tap opportunities in Africa. Government will work on improving air connectivity to Africa and facilitating the movement of business people and tourists. Budget 2013 Nationals from 29 additional countries from Africa will either be exempted entirely from visa or will benefit from visas on arrival. Honorary Consuls will be appointed in every major city on the continent. Scholarships will be offered to 50 deserving African students to pursue their studies/training in Mauritius. Pg 3

5 Air Connectivity Mauritius has Bilateral Air Services Agreement/ Memorandum of Understanding with the following mainland African countries: (1) Botswana, (2) Egypt, (3) Ethiopia, (4) Kenya, (5) Malawi, (6) Mozambique, (7) South Africa, (8) Swaziland, (9) Tanzania, (10) Zambia and (11) Zimbabwe. However it should be noted that there are no current operations between Mauritius and those countries except for Kenya and South Africa. Maritime Connectivity Port-Louis is connected via shipping lines to a few African ports, namely: Durban, Cape Town, Mombasa and Dar Es Salaam. Maritime services are presently provided by Maersk (sporadic), UASL Shipping or CMA-CGM. All offer services via other transhipment ports. The cost per 20 ft Container which varies between US$ 800 to US$ 1,500 is however uncompetitive. Private Sector Business Activities on the Mainland. Many private sector companies do business with mainland African countries. Business has been in the form of trade in goods, trade in services, and more recently foreign direct investment. Investment has been made by four banks in Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Zimbabwe either by setting up on their own office/subsidiaries or by acquisition of shareholding of existing local banks in the countries. Mauritian sugar producers have invested both in greenfield or acquisition of sugar plantation and milling activities in Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Ivory Coast. The two biggest agro-industrial companies have invested in the production of chicken in Mozambique. These companies are also engaged in the supply of day old chicks to many countries. The biggest IT service provider has set up business in a JV company in Namibia and is the first and most important service provider in that country. It has also started activities in Botswana. A first retail company has been set up through a JV in Kenya for the retailing of furniture and white goods. Investment in rice production has been made in Mozambique. Another Mauritian company has invested in steel foundry in Congo Brazzaville. One of the biggest local conglomerates has acquired a beef meat production company in Uganda. Other companies are seriously considering commencing activities in electrical engineering services in Kenya, in soap production in Congo Brazzaville and in hydro-electric generation in Rwanda. Pg 4

6 Table 1: Direct Investment to Africa by sector: (source: Bank of Mauritius) Description Rs Million Agriculture, forestry and fishing Manufacturing Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply Water supply, sewage, waste management and remediation activities 1 Construction 4 32 Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles Transportation and storage Accommodation and food service activities Information and communication 57 2 Financial and insurance activities Real estate activities Professional, scientific and technical activities 2 Administrative and support service activities 2 Other service activities 1 10 Total Trade in Goods Total merchandise exports by Mauritius to the African continent has expanded by an annualised rate of nearly 11% over the period to reach more than Rs 13 billion. This represents 19.5% of our total export of goods. Trade between Mauritius and the continent is heavily dominated by South Africa, both on imports and exports of goods. In 2008, imports of Mauritius from African countries were Rs 14,5 billion compared to Rs 3,0 billion of exports, thus yielding a trade deficit of Rs 11,5 billion. The deficit has come down to Rs 9.8 billion following an important growth in exports of textiles and garments to South Africa. Pg 5

7 Table2: Share of Imports to mainland Africa in Total Imports (Value: R Thousand) 2008 Rs 2009 Rs 2010 Rs 2011 Rs Total Imports from mainland Africa 14, , , ,740.4 Total Imports Mauritius 132, , , ,081.0 Percentage Note: Data in Export and Import Tables include all countries of mainland Africa but excludes Indian Ocean Islands. Table 3: Share of Exports to mainland Africa in Total Exports (Value: R thousand) 2008 Rs 2009 Rs 2010 Rs 2011 Rs Total Exports to mainland Africa 3, , , , Total Exports Mauritius 67, , , , Percentage Note: Data in Export and Import Tables include all countries of mainland Africa but excludes Indian Ocean Islands. Trade in Professional Services This is an area with huge potential. Export of ICT business solutions has grown very fast and stands at about Rs 950 million to around 12 countries in the region. There are also some companies which are engaged in professional and business advisory services.. Mauritius as a Global Business and Financial Services Platform According to figures from the Financial Services Commission, the share of total investment in the Global Business Sector from Mauritius to African countries has grown from 8.7% to 10.3 %. Investment to Africa increased from some USD 16 billion in 2009 to USD 27 billion in Pg 6

8 Table 4: Investment Targeted to African Countries (USD) Investment Holding 11,958,739, ,398,029, (% increase) 78.93% Funds Collective Investment Schemes 522,037, ,834, Closed-end funds 3,259,356, ,859,694, Total 3,781,393, ,329,528, (% increase) 40.94% Source: FSC Paper 24 October Trade in Professional Services Mauritius is currently home to some 800 CIS/CEF funds, investing mostly in India but increasingly in Africa. Tourism Reunion, South Africa and the other Indian Ocean islands are the main source of tourists from the region. Next are tourists from Zimbabwe and Kenya,as shown at table below. Table 5: Origin of Tourists from Africa Change South Africa 86,232 89,058 3% Zimbabwe 1,495 1,568 5% Comores 969 1,076 11% Madagascar 11,449 13,563 18% Seychelles 8,485 6,779-20% Other African 7,630 11,297 48% It should be noted that the number of tourists from South Africa has constantly been on the rise, except for 2009, and has in 2011 amounted to 86,232 arrivals to Mauritius. Medical Tourism The Indian Ocean islands are the main market for medical tourism in Mauritius and South Africa represented 8 % of patients from overseas. Pg 7

9 Table 6: Breakdown of Medical Tourists per Country Country Number Percentage Madagascar 3, Rest of the world 1, Reunion 1, Europe 1, Seychelles 1,093 9 France UK India South Africa Comoros Total 12, (Source: BOI Survey of Private Healthcare Providers 2012) African Students in Mauritius The number of students from African countries in Mauritius has increased from 165 in 2010/2011 to 218 in 2011/2012. It should be noted that many students are from South Africa, 62 in 2010/2011 and 61 in 2011/2012 while those from Nigeria has grown from 13 in 2010/2011 to /2012 with most attending the Mauritian branch of Middlesex University. Table7: African students in tertiary education in Mauritius, by country of origin. Country 2010/ /2012 Country 2010/ /2012 Algeria 1 3 Lesotho 3 1 Benin 4 3 Liberia 1 Botswana 2 2 Malawi 2 4 Burkina Faso 2 1 Mali 2 Burundi 3 Mozambique 1 Cameroon 9 7 Nigeria Cape Verde 1 Rwanda 2 6 Chad 3 1 Senegal 1 1 Congo 3 Sierra Leone 4 1 Cote D Ivoire 4 4 South Africa Ethiopia 1 Tanzania 4 4 Gabon 1 1 Togo 2 2 Gambia 1 1 Tunisia 1 2 Ghana 1 Uganda 2 9 Guinea 2 3 Zambia 13 4 Kenya 9 16 Zimbabwe 7 8 Pg 8

10 Strategic Issues to Consider The strategic vision is built on the consideration that there are some key objectives to be achieved for the economic benefits of Mauritius: i) To have a sustained growth in export of goods to African ii) iii) iv) To attract foreign companies to produce in Mauritius for exports to the mainland. To encourage operators to use Mauritius as a logistics, trade and warehousing platform to export goods to the mainland. to increase professional and business services export to the region v) to make Mauritius the gateway between Asia and Africa Strategic Approach and Actions for a Coherent, Deepened and Effective Mauritius Africa Strategy There is need to articulate a coherent strategic vision for Mauritius to significantly lift our economic partnership with Africa. The country has built many assets to take up the mainland more strongly. It is about getting our acts together for achieving higher gains. Having a platform for regular consultative meetings involving Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Industry, public sector economic promotion bodies and private sector organisations would greatly help concerted and coordinated strategizing and actions. 1. Mauritius Inc (public & private sector) should focus on a deeper and stronger footprint in geographical terms rather than a shallow dispersed one. As we have limited resources, we should aim to deploy them effectively and efficiently; 2. Consequently we should not scatter our limited human and financial resources, while also taking in consideration the strong framework of the country s membership to regional economic groupings. Our trade, investment and other business development efforts should focus on some key selected countries. A mapping of existing gains and experience suggest that Eastern and Southern Africa is the region with the greatest opportunities. 3. Mauritius should strategically choose some selected sectors in which to intervene in the region. This should be based on two considerations: (a) sectors where there are low hanging fruits which we can pick by transferring activities and competence built through decades and where we have already built competitive advantage and (b) sectors which are strategic and where we cannot afford to be absent. 4. Mauritius efforts to sign DTAAs and IPPAs should continue and our objective should be to have such treaties with as many countries as possible. This is important to consolidate the role of Mauritius as a platform for Asian and other international investment to Africa. A Special Desk should be set up to accelerate the process of initiation, negotiation, signature and ratification of such instruments. Pg 9

11 5. Mauritius should work on building domestic human resource capacity to sustain the regional expansion effort. Human resource is acknowledged as a major constraint by business operators already doing business on the mainland. There is need to train, coach, groom and motivate middle and top management cadres to work in Africa. There is also need to reach out to Mauritian diaspora in Africa, which is estimated at about 3,000 excluding South Africa. In this context, the recent decision of government to allocate 50 scholarships to African students should be implemented in a manner that is strategically beneficial to the Mauritius Africa strategy. This means allocating the scholarships to countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. It also means awarding these scholarships in selected fields of study. Private sector partnership should be engaged for the project where students could be involved in placement in private companies already engaged in business development in Africa. 6. We should select champions in selected sectors and support them to spearhead the capture of opportunities in the region. This involves bringing good players that are not only top of the radar screen but also others that have developed competence and capacity in areas in demand on the mainland. For example in waste to energy conversion, high voltage electrical line works, etc. 7. There should be a focus on selected strategic asset holding (land, rights, licences, etc.) obtained through government to government privileged relations and where such assets can be used to leverage business partnership with foreign partners. A collective private sector SPV should be created to hold such assets. 8. A Regional Business Development Fund should be set up with contribution from both public and private sectors. This is very important to mitigate and manage risks. The RBDF should be used to support business ventures to the region through seed capital as equity as well as for the payment of studies that need to be done for business development. 9. Export of professional services. Bilateral Agreements should be negotiated and signed with selected countries for exports of selected services. Professionals in the Construction sector should organise collective capacity for export of their services to the region. Sugar, textile and garment industry, as well as industrial engineering services should organise management and technical services for exports to the region. It is notable that IT service providers are already exporting to more than 15 countries on the mainland and exports have reached the Rs 1.0 billion mark (US$ 33.0 million). 10. Government should play a more active role in securing formal and informal preferential access to public sector procurement market in the region. India, China, EU countries and RSA are very aggressive in this field. Pg 10

12 11. Air Connectivity with Africa mainland should be intensified. Flights between Nairobi and Mauritius should be increased. Ethiopian Airways should be invited to fly to Mauritius. Greater air connectivity will have many benefits, such as: a) Increase the attractiveness of Mauritius for Regional Headquartering. Presently South Africa is capturing more regional headquarters than Mauritius although it does not provide the fiscal advantages of Mauritius. Evidence from some business leaders indicates that the limited air connectivity of Mauritius to mainland capitals is a serious challenge. b) Encourage more travel of businessmen of the region. c) Raise the flow of tourists from the mainland, especially for countries other than South Africa. The growing African middle class is increasingly becoming a tourism consumer and Mauritius enjoys a very good image. With a strong advertising campaign by MTPA, shopping tourists could also benefit. d) To increase the flow of medical tourism from the region with strong advertising of our health facilities capability and more connectivity. 12. A feeder Shipping Line is absolutely necessary to raise the competitiveness of exports for both locally produced goods and to companies operating in the Freeport as a hub for the production and assembly of goods to the regional market under the preferential market access regimes. Government should encourage the private sector to invest in providing the feeder services in the region. There may be a case for Government to subsidise freight costs of exporters to some selected regional ports for an initial period until the volume of traffic is sufficient to ensure the commercial viability of the project. Government can support the private venture feeder line by facilitating access to concessionary funding from some bilateral donors ( China or India) for the acquisition of an adequate number of appropriate vessels. 13. We must market and promote our Freeport more aggressively. The recent investment framework of government for manufacturing operations in the Freeport is attractive and should help to attract new players. It is understood that operators from India, Pakistan and China have shown keen interest to use the Freeport platform for accessing the COMESA and SADC markets with value addition in Mauritius. Under the new terms, Freeport status is granted to any company involved in manufacturing activities provided that the enterprise exports its manufactured goods to the extent of at least 95 per cent of its annual turnover, and at least 80 per cent of its total exports to Africa. With such Freeport Status, companies would enjoy 100% corporate tax exemption and reduced port handling charges. 14. Business oriented competent consuls should be appointed in the selected African countries, mainly in the COMESA and SADC region. 15. There should be greater synergy between public sector agencies and private sector organisations and operators to promote trade and investment to Africa through a coordinated multi-sector advertising campaign in a number of selected countries showcasing what Mauritius has to offer. Pg 11

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