Mauritius, a small island nation located around 2,000 Km off the south-eastern coast of Africa, is considered one of the most developed countries of the continent (UN, 2020).Mauritius been referred to as the “Star and Key of the Indian Ocean”, holding an Exclusive Economic Zone.

A Brief History of Business in Mauritius
Since its independence, Mauritius has matured from a mostly mono-crop sugar-dominated economy to a more refined and diversified services-oriented one. The quiet “neonate” tertiary sector currently accounts for 70% of the island’s GDP (EMS Consulting, 2020). While traditional economic growth sectors like manufacturing and tourism sustain their strong position in the economy, many other opportunities have surfaced in emerging sectors with the potential to become the future economic pillars. This whirlwind transition to a considerably more mature economy comes as a result of sound economic management coupled with a vision of mutual success which is shared between the government, the overall business community and the civil society at large (EMS Consulting, 2020).

Ease of Doing Business in Mauritius

Amidst the ever-changing global landscape in the business sector around the world, Mauritius has been really consistent in transforming its overall business environment and climbed the ladder from the 49th place in 2016 to 13th in 2019 on the international scale as indicated in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report published on 24th October 2019 (World Bank Group, 2019). Moreover, being ranked 1st in the African continent, Mauritius has really consolidated itself to become the leader in business facilitation in Africa.

Figure 2: Ease of Doing Business Rank in Africa (World Bank Group, 2019)

 


Figure 3: Ease of Doing Business Global Ranking (World Bank Group, 2019)

Advantages of Doing Business in Mauritius
The island of Mauritius possesses a unique business-friendly environment along with a salubrious investment climate that makes it an attractive business venture destination. Investors and other industries’ professionals benefit from a hassle-free business environment where income and corporate taxes are harmonized at 15% only, a really competitive rate compared to other destinations. Other notable benefits are as follows:

  • The operating costs of doing business in Mauritius are quite affordable when compared to other emerging business centers around the world.
  • Mauritius has double tax avoidance agreements with over 46 countries amongst which are Singapore, United Kingdom, China, UAE, France, Germany and India (Mauritius Revenue Authority, 2011).
  • Free repatriation of dividends, capital and profits.
  • Customs duty is exempted on basic operational equipment.
  • Possibility of up to 100% foreign ownership.
  • Mauritius is reputed for its political and social stability.
  • The island has an overall literacy rate of more than 90% with a bilingual (even multilingual) workforce (UNESCO, 2018). The official languages are English and French.
  • Mauritius also possesses state-of-the-art infrastructures.


Figure 4: The Ebene Cyber-City in Mauritius

Major Economic Sectors in Mauritius: A Plethora of Business Opportunities

The economy of Mauritius currently depends mainly on agriculture, tourism, financial services and textiles, but is rapidly expanding into seafood and aquaculture, information technology and business process outsourcing, education, hospitality and property development, renewable energies and environment, logistics and distribution services, healthcare and medical travel and manufacturing and light engineering (EMS Consulting, 2020).

The local authorities plan to put more emphasis on services and innovation in the coming years. As such, after quite a long time of slow growth, the government policies now seek to boost the economic growth in five key areas which are as follows:

    • Serving as a gateway for international investment in the African continent.
    • Increasing the use of renewable energy.
    • Developing smart cities.
    • Growing the ocean economy and;
    • Upgrading and modernizing the national infrastructures, including public transportation, the port and the airport.


Figure 5: The Port of Port-Louis, Mauritius (Economic Development Board, 2019)

New Business and Investment Opportunities in Mauritius

The Agro-Industry
According to the Economic Development Board (2019), the agro-industrial landscape of Mauritius has progressed from a mere sugarcane cultivation economy to a more sophisticated and diversified array of agricultural activities. New innovative measures encouraging bio-agriculture, sheltered farming incentives, paired with inducements towards the development of new high-end agricultural activities are set for new growth impetus and agro-product diversification. Moreover, the grafting of nutraceuticals on the agricultural field will result in an escalation of the commodity value chain, increase overall revenues and other export earnings. The main components of activities comprise the sugarcane sector and non-sugarcane sector namely crops production, tea production, food processing and livestock production and processing.

The Film Industry
Mauritius attracts a large number of entrepreneurs in the global creative industry and film production arena. An astonishing competitive cash rebate of a maximum of 40% on Qualifying Production Expenditure (QPE) spent in Mauritius makes the island as one of the most sought after shooting locations around the world. Moreover, Mauritius has one of the most competitive tax rates when compared to other competitive locations and has negotiated Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) treaties with more than 46 countries as mentioned earlier for the benefit of foreign filmmakers.

Educational Sector
Mauritius has positioned itself as a leading educational hub in the African region through provision of high-quality education and training. Today, the island is a significant provider of high-quality education and is progressively establishing its reputation as “the” educational hub with the participation of an ever-increasing number of local and foreign students. Since 2007, the number of international students has gradually increased from 528 to reach 3,267 in November 2018, coming from more than 80 different countries.
There are also 10 public tertiary educational institutions which are state-funded and 41 private tertiary educational institutions where students are mainly enrolled in law, medical programs, computer sciences, management, hospitality management and information technology. The sector contributes around 4.8% of GDP with a workforce of more than 25,000 people (Economic Development Board, 2019).

Healthcare Sector
The healthcare sector of the island has metamorphosed into an integrated model supported by modern medical facilities and high-value activities like hi-tech medicine, medical tourism, medical education and wellness activities. The sector is now gravitating towards trading its services on the international scale and is currently establishing itself as a medical tourism platform starting with the African continent. Armed with state-of-the-art medical facilities and highly qualified personnel, Mauritius is poised to cater to the growing needs of both domestic and international medical service seekers.

Ocean Economy
Being regarded as one of the future drivers of the island’s economic growth, projects concerned with the Ocean Economy sector have ramped up during the past couple of years. With these developments, it is expected that the GDP contribution of this neonate sector will substantially increase from its current 11% to reach at least 15% in the medium term (Economic Development Board, 2019). This sector presents an incredible business opportunity to serious investors.

Renewable Energy
However, in line with international best practices in this environment-friendly sector, renewable energy projects requiring direct sales to the grid are subject to an official bidding process by concerned authorities. In addition, private sector initiatives which, most of the time, do not require the local government’s involvement can be immediately considered through the Third-Party Providers Protocol (TPPP) which covers the production of electricity from renewable energy sources by private promoters for direct sales to third parties and other buyers (Economic Development Board, 2019).

Conclusion
All these business opportunities presented here illustrate Mauritius as a one-stop shop for investors. Also, with one of the highest GDPs in the African continent, the island is an economic fortress built on liberal fiscal principles that promote profitable investment with exposure to the global business scene.

Reference list


Economic Development Board (2019). Mauritius: A Thriving Economic Powerhouse Mauritius. [online] Economic Development Board. Available at:
https://www.edbmauritius.org/media/2092/generic_brochure_english_website_jan-2019.pdf [Accessed 16 Aug. 2020].
EMS Consulting (2020). Doing Business in Mauritius | EMS Consulting. [online] ems.mu. Available at: https://ems.mu/doing-business-in-mauritius/ [Accessed 15 Aug. 2020].

Mauritius Revenue Authority (2011). Double Taxation Agreements – Mauritius Revenue Authority. [online] Www.mra.mu. Available at: https://www.mra.mu/index.php/taxes-duties/international-taxation/double-taxation-agreements [Accessed 16 Aug. 2020].
PwC (2020). Doing Business Mauritius. [online] PwC. Available at:
https://www.pwc.com/mu/en/publications/doing-business-mauritius.html [Accessed 16 Aug. 2020].
Theodora (2019). Mauritius Economy 2019, CIA World Fact book. [online] Theodora.com. Available at: https://theodora.com/wfbcurrent/mauritius/mauritius_economy.html [Accessed 16 Aug. 2020].
UNESCO (2018). Mauritius – Literacy Rate 2018. [online] countryeconomy.com. Available at: https://countryeconomy.com/demography/literacy-rate/mauritius#:~:text=Lower%20literacy%20rate%20in%20Mauritius [Accessed 16 Aug. 2020].
World Bank Group (2019). Rankings. [online] World Bank. Available at: https://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings [Accessed 16 Aug. 2020].

Muhammad Fawaaz Goolbar

Mauritius

Student of Master of International Business Administration and Postgraduate Certificate in Procurement & Contracts Management program