Mauritius Africa Business Club guides investors on Africa projects
Amédée Darga, Chairman, Enterprise Mauritius, presented the socio-demographic characteristics of Africa, detailing the distribution of various religious, ethnic and cultural groups as well as their psychology to explain why some regions are more prone to conflicts. (Image: MABC)
The Mauritius Africa Business Club (MABC) organized a presentation on Friday to equip Africa-focused investors with a better understanding of the African continent and gauge the investment potential of countries in the region.
Accordingly, MABC founders Amédée Darga (Chairman, Enterprise Mauritius), Dr Rama Sithanen (Former Finance Minister and currently Chairman of IFS and Rwanda Development Board) and Afsar Ebrahim (Deputy Group Managing Partner, BDO), made a presentation on Mauritius-routed investment into the African continent.
Held at the office of consulting major BDO at Port Louis, around forty Mauritius companies attended the presentation. It was reiterated that investing in Africa is a complex decision as regional markets together represent 1.1 billion inhabitants, or a whopping 15% of the world population.
During this conference, the three speakers chose to elaborate on different themes to guide the participants in their choice of investments into Africa.
First up, Amédée Darga presented the socio-demographic characteristics of Africa. He painted a precise picture of the continent, detailing the distribution of various religious, ethnic and cultural groups as well as their psychology to explain why some regions are more prone to conflicts.
According to Amédée Darga, “each civilisation function differently” and “it is necessary to understand fault lines to understand conflict situations”.
Darga’s presentation helped participants to form precise conclusions regarding which are the regions in Africa that are the most politically and socially stable, and hence offer better investment avenues.
Dr Rama Sithanen, for his part, focused on investment opportunities in Africa. According to him, investors often regard Africa as a contingency plan, but he noted that the region offers unique investments possibilities. He likened investment avenues to exits on a European motorway and insisted on the importance of choosing wisely which sector to invest in, stating “you must choose the right exit because the next one may be several kilometres further down the road”. He went on to highlight the key sectors that are ripe for investment, particularly extractive industries and agriculture.
He emphasized that Mauritius has an edge over Western countries: the island economy did not colonize other nations, it is not considered an interfering power, a ‘big brother’ so to speak, and is lauded globally as a case study of economic and social success. Further, Mauritius benefits from good relationships with many African countries. Finally, the geographical proximity between the island and the continent positions Mauritius as a gateway for other countries seeking to invest in Africa.
Afsar Ebrahim, as adviser to several large companies across African countries, evoked personal experiences to elaborate on how the African business world functions. In his presentation, he spoke about the mistakes that Africa-focused investors can fall prey to and gave tips on how to succeed in Africa.
Besides, he opined that, to gain complete credibility on the continent, it is essential for Mauritius companies to adopt a humble approach towards understanding the local values and cultures. Ebrahim also stressed that many Mauritian companies experience difficulties in penetrating the continent as few island inhabitants want to immigrate to Africa.
Based on the overwhelming response to the first workshop, the second session is already slated for April 22, 2014.
Blast Communications MD Aisha Mosaheb, Enterprise Mauritius Chairman Amédée Darga, BDO’s Afsar Ebrahim, former finance minister Rama Sithanen and Food and Allied Group CEO Cédric de Spéville came together in 2012 to found the MABC.
The association aims to promote investments into Africa and facilitate business in Africa for their members.
As on date, the club counts hundreds of members, featuring many CEOs of Top 100 companies.