Mauritius a gateway for private equity funds into Africa

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“There is a huge effort that’s been undertaken by the public sector, the private sector, the Bank of Mauritius, the Stock Exchange of Mauritius, to position Mauritius as the hub for investing into Africa. We are a tiny island in the Indian Ocean but we are part of Africa and we have all the attributes than necessary to make Mauritius the hub for investing into Africa,” Barclays Mauritius director Rishi Nursimulu told CNBC Africa on Wednesday.

Mauritius’s attributes as a gateway into Africa include a strong regulative framework, political stability and a legal framework where Mauritius combines common law in the United Kingdom (UK) with the French civil code.

Mauritius also has access to the UK’s Privy Council, which is a first for Africa, and has the largest number of Double Taxation Agreements in Africa.

 “The World Economic Forum has ranked Mauritius as the number one competitive economy in sub-Saharan Africa, overtaking South Africa. For the first time, an African nation has made it to the top 50 globally. There is a process of demystifying Mauritius away from the traditional honeymoon destination, so hopefully soon when people think of Mauritius they won’t see just ‘beach holiday’ but they will also think ‘invest in Africa’,” Nursimulu explained.

Mauritius has not had any civil or political unrest in the past 30 years, which provides a secure atmosphere for current and potential investors.

10 years ago Africa’s private equity sector was mainly dominated by funds managed out of the United Kingdom and America. There is now significant interest from India, China, South Korea and Japan wanting to enter Africa’s private equity space.

“Previously there was this concept of ‘let’s just invest generally into Africa,’ now, because of the extent of investment, we’re seeing funds being very specific on sectors,” said Nursimulu.

“We’re seeing a lot of private equity funds wanting to list and it offers some comfort to investors globally about being regulated, so Mauritius plays a significant role in that.”