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With 9% of overall FDI into Africa mediated through Mauritius alone, the jurisdiction firmly sets itself apart as an important commercial capital for investment, business structuring, wealth management, trade and financial settlement for both international companies and high net worth individuals. AfrAsia Bank hosted, on 14 October, a webinar bringing together a panel of established industry experts to discuss why Mauritius remains the preferred International Financial Centre (IFC) and how this competitive edge may benefit Kenya’s economic growth in the future.

The real opportunity and uniqueness of Mauritius lies in its diversified economic landscape with opportunities in various sectors ranging from health care to high-end luxury immovable properties. Furthered by the growing internationalisation of capital markets and the adoption of broader horizons by international investors, Mauritius’ authorities have enacted a series of strong measures and streamlined procedures to support foreign investment and investors in 2021, up against the upheaval caused by the pandemic. The introduction of the ‘Premium Visa’, amongst many other budgetary measures, attest to the country’s commitment to scale-up its business climate and accelerate recovery.

Commenting on the structures that strengthen the Mauritius IFC, Assad Abdullatiff, Managing Director of Axis Fiduciary Ltd, stressed that “Mauritius plays a legitimate and integral role in shaping its financial sector made possible by inherent features that allow financial planning and risk management enabling cross-border vehicles which are necessary for global trades. Our difference is that we are a jurisdiction of substance, where we focus on creating value not only for clients as well as for those who work in that sector and by extension the businesses that operate in the markets that we serve.”

Similarly, Mauritius has been supportive of all international initiatives aimed at enhancing the regulatory framework from every sphere to ensure stringent compliance checks when onboarding investors and throughout transaction processing. The fact that Mauritius forms part of the first generation of bilateral investment treaties, the focus is more geared towards protecting the investors and their underlying investments. Faraz Rojid, Director of Financial Services at the Economic Development Board, highlighted the strong reputation acclaimed internationally backed by its leading performances on global indices and legal aspects “We are on a trajectory that is here to attract investments but also to become a viable or competitive business hub for emerging markets, principally for the African continent. As a competent jurisdiction, we remain at the forefront of adhering to international norms, practices and governance. Similarly, on the AML/CFT front, it is noteworthy that Mauritius has made substantial and expeditious progress in implementing the action plan, as was stated in the FATF’s last plenary session.”

The Mauritius-Kenyan relationship goes a long way back as both countries share nearly five decades of bilateral economic relations in areas of trade and investment. The latest entry is the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) whereby this income tax treaty occupies a significant role in cross-border structuring and provides more clarity on the various taxation aspects that need to be considered by international investors prior to any investment decisions. Similarly, this collaboration was further strengthened with the visit of Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenyan’s President, in April 2019 which aimed at boosting the economic, cultural and social ties between the two countries. Speaking about wealth migration from Kenya, Ravi Teji, Head of Business Development – Africa at AfrAsia Bank, reassured how the country may gain from this situation. “Africa is a hinterland for Mauritius and we are well positioned to receive capital which needs to be deployed. Kenya will not be losing out as that fund or money from other jurisdictions which needs to be invested will create opportunity for that country. It’s not just about taking out money of Kenya. Mauritius is an advisor to investors who are looking at a jurisdiction for a sound investment and from there we advise them how and where to route the investment considering the different technical and legal aspects.”