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Platform Africa And MBN Mauritius Jointly Organize An In-Depth Debate On Investment In West Africa

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Platform Africa and the Members Business Network (MBN) Mauritius jointly organized a debate on “Investing in West Africa” on Thursday March 14 in Port Louis. The session aimed to explore the considerable potential of West Africa for Mauritian businesses and investors.

The panel was moderated by Manisha Dookhony, President of MINDEX, and included Beryl Agyeiwaa Lomotey, Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery, Consulate General of the Republic of Ghana; Ganessen Chinnapen, Economic Development Board Consultant for Africa; John Félicité, Business Development Director Africa, Ocorian, and Sheik Mahamoodally, Group Finance Director, Orezone Drilling.

The session was opened by Jackie Demetriou, CEO of MBN Mauritius, who emphasized that West Africa is a region of enormous potential and vibrant diversity. As sponsor of the event, Isabelle François, Deputy Head of Global Business at AfrAsia Bank Ltd, explained how the bank could offer support to those interested in West Africa, given their ability to transact in several African currencies, and presented its solutions in corporate, investment and private banking, among others.

Platform Africa And MBN Mauritius Jointly Organize An In-Depth Debate On Investment In West Africa
Ganessen Chinnapen

Exploring the economic and investment landscape in West Africa

Opening the debate, Manisha Dookhony, as moderator, said that during her recent visits to West Africa, she had witnessed notable development in the region, and that “when one country develops, others develop too”. She explained that she had witnessed the enthusiasm of the population, who have embraced technology and are making payments digitally, and overall considers that “things are evolving favorably” in the West African region.

Speaking on Ghana’s economic and investment prospects, Beryl Agyeiwaa Lomotey, Minister Counsellor/Head of Chancery, Consulate General of the Republic of Ghana, said that Ghana is one of the best places to do business and that “we are the gateway to West Africa. We believe that when your business prospers, Ghana prospers too. We work hand in hand with businessmen for our mutual benefit”. She explained that Ghana had multiplied incentives, including tax vacations and economic transformation zones, industrial parks and technology parks. She stressed that Ghana is “the center of the world” and the second most peaceful country in Africa. She insisted that “this is not a country where a change of government affects your business”.

Ganessen Chinnapen, Economic Development Board consultant for Africa, pointed out that the volume of outbound investment recorded in West Africa from Mauritius in 2023 amounted to USD 4 billion, and noted that specific strategies had been developed for Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo. He indicated that Côte d’Ivoire was the top country for Mauritian investor interest in 2023, with USD 1.6 billion of outbound investment in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and food commodities. He noted that Mauritian market players such as Terra Group and IBL had “established a real Mauritian footprint in Côte d’Ivoire”, while Grit Group was also investing in real estate. He explained that the EDB had “pipelines, projects and interest from potential investors for these markets to have an expansion plan in West Africa”, while inbound investments to Mauritius, which include around 12 sovereign wealth funds, demonstrate “the importance and credibility of the Mauritian IFC”.

As for the anticipated impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), he stated that “we are building on the potential of AfCFTA to make Mauritius an investment hub and a trade and investment center for the Middle East, Asia and Africa”.

Platform Africa And MBN Mauritius Jointly Organize An In-Depth Debate On Investment In West Africa
Sheik Mahamoodally

 

John Félicité, Business Development Director Africa, Ocorian, stressed the importance of promoting the fact that Mauritian companies are now investing in Africa. “This will change the way they look at Mauritian companies and Mauritius, because we’re not just using it as a platform, but we’re really getting involved in the game and making long-term investments to create jobs on the ground, inside and outside the continent,” he added.

Regarding Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAs), John noted that they had lost their importance, with 53% of all Mauritian investments in Africa going to countries where there are no DTAs. “While DTAs are relevant, they are not as decisive as they once were”. He found that Mauritius was still used as a platform or conduit for a variety of reasons, such as setting up a structure in a neutral jurisdiction, ease of doing business or banking services such as trade finance, project finance or foreign exchange. From personal experience, John also reported that Mauritius was used as a source for finding partners in other parts of the world.

Optimizing business opportunities in the region

Drawing on his experience in the region, Sheik Mahamoodally, Group Finance Director of Orezone Drilling, described West Africa as “a land of opportunity”, from mining and agriculture to FinTech, logistics and hospitality. He said the choice for the investor would depend on the business model and sector, the company and the currency in which the investor is more comfortable, which could include countries where banks feel comfortable, such as Senegal.

The event was closed by Samantha Seewoosurrun, co-founder of Platform Africa, thanking the moderator and the panelists for sharing their ideas on how Mauritius is contributing to growth and job creation in West Africa, and also establishing a link with Asia as an investment hub. She also stressed the importance of recognizing women entrepreneurs in Africa, who play a vital role in building the continent’s economies.

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