Investors hail Mauritius as gateway to Africa
The island nation of Mauritius has potential to serve as a useful springboard for making investments in the rest of the continent, according to participants at an international private equity conference in the island nation. Comprising experts and investors from India and other countries, the participants exchanged ideas and views on tapping Africa’s vast growth potential.
The two-day private equity (PE) conference, held at the Hilton Resort and Spa, in Flic en Flac from September 12-13 was organised by the Board of Investment (BOI), the national investment promotion agency of the Mauritius government. Themed ‘Connecting Global Investors with African Opportunities’, the event focused on the growing and unprecedented financing opportunities that the continent offers to PE investors, as well as exit routes.
Mauritius may be a small market, with a population of only about 1.3 million, but the scenic island nation is one of the most prosperous countries in Africa, with an estimated per capita GDP of around $9,541. With state-of-the-art infrastructure and cutting edge information and communications technology, the island offers a sound base for investors seeking to enter the African market.
Indian salt-to-software business conglomerate Tata Group’s financial services arm, Tata Capital, said that Mauritius is always up there whenever investors look at the future prospects of Africa.
Tata Capital is already planning to launch a $300 million Africa-focused PE fund. The proposed Africa fund would mainly focus on segments such as consumer goods and agriculture and agri-processing, besides investing in the energy segment, including renewables, light manufacturing and financial services.
For the fund, the company would be mainly tapping manpower resources from within the Tata group, which employs about 4,000 people in different parts of Africa.
Mauritius’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade Arvin Boolell noted, while addressing the conference, that Africa holds a lot promise. He highlighted the political will to ensure “economies of scale” in the region and there was no “one size fits all for Africa”, thus underscoring the importance of Mauritius as an investment gateway.
The ruling political party of South Africa, the Africa National Congress (ANC), was represented at the conference by the ANC Treasurer General, Zweli Mkhize. Mkhize addressed the conference and informed the participants that South Africa’s Progressive Business Forum (PBF) would be arranging a business delegation visit, which he would lead, during 2014. A 12-person strong PBF delegation attended the event.
During his 20-hour visit, Mkhize had meetings with the Mauritius Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Charles Gaetan Xavier-Luc, and Boolell. Mkhize highlighted the strong economic and bilateral links between Mauritius and South Africa during his meetings.
China Africa Development Fund’s Executive Director Luis Zhengyi said that more and more Chinese companies are expected to utilise Mauritius as a platform for various investment activities into Africa.
Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) Executive Director Kimihiko Inaba underscored the importance of Mauritius as a gateway for African markets.
BOI Managing Director Ken Poonosamy said that the board is looking to make Mauritius a platform for African markets.
The event was attended by more than 300 businessmen and bankers from 33 countries. The conference served as a common platform for business discourse across countries, bringing together diverse views and perspectives.
The event witnessed many voices, from different parts of the globe, including many African nations, putting their money behind Mauritius as an attractive investment destination. Discussions focused on diverse topics including regulatory developments and challenges for private equity across Africa and on rising flow of Asian private equity investments in Africa.
Image: Arvin Boolell addresses participants on the 2nd day of a BOI organized private equity conference at Mauritius, Source: Government of Mauritius
Source: www.private-equity.mu, Press Trust of India, allAfrica.com, Government of Mauritius
The Tata group comprises over 100 operating companies in seven business sectors: communications and information technology, engineering, materials, services, energy, consumer products and chemicals. The group has operations in more than 80 countries across six continents, and its companies export products and services to 85 countries.
The revenue of all Tata companies, taken together, was $100.09 billion in 2011-12, with 58 percent of this coming from business outside India. Tata companies employ over 450,000 people worldwide. The Tata name has been respected in India for more than 140 years for its adherence to strong values and business ethics.
Tata group, having presence in about 13 countries in the African region, rakes in annual revenues to the tune of $2.5 to 3 billion from African operations.
Source: Company Website