A recent article on Yes Africa, Mauritius rides wave of Asian Investment in Africa, stating that the Bank of China secured a Mauritian banking license in March. This was hailed as proof of the island’s potential as a staging post for Africa.
Antony Withers, chief executive of the Mauritius Commercial Bank, says the move was the most tangible sign yet of Mauritius’s ability to become a centre for Chinese investment. “Mauritius has a wonderful opportunity to act as a conduit to spur the growth of the African continent,” he adds.
Until recently, mainland Africa had played a relatively minor role in the island’s evolution as an international financial centre. But over the past few years, the focus has changed. Africa is now driving Mauritius’s future development, at a time when a tax treaty change has thrown its traditional reliance on India in doubt.
The turning point was 2012, when more than half of the new investment flowing through Mauritian companies that are licensed to do offshore business went to Africa, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Amal Autar, director of the Mauritius International Trust Company and chairman of Step Mauritius, the professional association for tax planners, says business with eastern and sub-Saharan Africa has taken up much of the slack left by the sharp drop in its Indian business in recent years. “They say Mauritius is blessed. Doors open up at difficult times,” he says.
The timing may have been fortuitous but Mauritius’s ability to build its links with the continent can partly be attributed to its energetic pursuit of tax treaties with African nations over the past 20 years.
In this, as in the corporate sector, China represents a growing market, says Samade Jhummun, chief executive of Global Finance Mauritius, which represents the financial services industry.
In conclusion, he says the number of Chinese investors with a net worth of more than $16m has grown by 14 per cent in the past year to 89,000. Many will be looking to invest outside China, using Hong Kong as a base and Mauritius as a platform to invest in Africa, he says. Some of the incentives in the government’s recent budget are aimed at encouraging such people to set up family offices to manage their wealth in Mauritius.
You can read the full article here: