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Mauritius must not only be a gateway, but also a catalyst for wealth creation and management

In an exclusive interview with BIZWEEK as part of MITCO’s 30th-anniversary celebrations, Mr Mahen Govinda, the CEO of MITCO, delved into the history of the Global Business sector in Mauritius, and the current challenges. Mr Govinda, who previously worked with the Board of Investment, shared insights into the sector’s evolution, its pivotal role in the African market, and the ambitious vision for the future.

Reflecting on the early days, the CEO recalled his tenure at the Board of Investment, where the focus was on promoting Mauritius as a business hub, not limited to finance, but also encompassing sectors like ICT and BPO. The initial emphasis was on India, backed by a favourable tax treaty, but the realization of the need for diversification prompted a shift in strategy.

With a keen eye on Africa, Mr Govinda and his team recognized the continent as the next frontier for investments. Leveraging Mauritius’ stable socio-economic and political environment, bilingual workforce, and well-functioning banking system, they strategically positioned the island as a reference point for African investments. The ecosystem created in Mauritius – comprising management companies, auditors, banks, tax advisors, and lawyers – allowed for efficient structuring for the African market.

The CEO highlighted three critical aspects that set Mauritius apart: diversification into Africa, a shift from offshore to global business with substance, and integration with the domestic economy. This multifaceted approach aimed to transform Mauritius into an international financial center with genuine economic activities, rather than just a tax haven.

Discussing the challenges faced, Mr Govinda pointed out the historical dependence on treaties, especially with India, and the need for continuous reforms to maintain competitiveness. The revision of the treaty in 2016 did not hinder the sector’s momentum, thanks to a diversified strategy that positioned Mauritius as a consolidation center for investments heading into Africa.

In the contemporary context, Mr Govinda emphasized Mauritius’ significance as a consolidation hub for funds targeting Africa. The CEO noted that Mauritius offered a stable legal system, Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs) with African countries, and a geographically strategic position that mitigated systemic risks associated with the African continent.

While celebrating the success of attracting approximately USD 80 billion in structured investments for Africa, Mr Govinda acknowledged the evolving landscape. He stressed the need for Mauritius to not only become a hub for gateway investments, but also a catalyst for wealth creation and management. This involves addressing challenges such as infrastructure development, connectivity, and the creation of a capital market.

The CEO discussed MITCO’s role in this evolving landscape, with a focus on personalized services for special funds, venture capital funds, and various licensed activities. He outlined the importance of providing a unique value proposition to clients, differentiating MITCO as a partner committed to guiding clients through the entire lifecycle of their investments.

Looking ahead, Mr Govinda highlighted the importance of creating a conducive environment for skilled professionals to stay in Mauritius. He emphasized the necessity of addressing lifestyle concerns and streamlining procedures for work permits. The CEO underscored MITCO’s ambition to add value continually, attract diverse structures, and guide major African families in structuring their businesses effectively.

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