Banking on Mauritius: Why I see potential in my home country
When I’m travelling in Europe or the US and tell people I am based in Mauritius, they often ask if I wear flip flops and a tie to work each day. I’m used to these types of quips – I’ve been working here since becoming a chartered accountant and completing my training in London in 1990.
After I clear up questions of fashion and etiquette, we usually move on to the financial services industry here in Mauritius. My country is known for a solid regulatory framework that has allowed us to become an international financial center. We attract investors with friendly tax laws and a stable political and macroeconomic environment.
Typically, I would not use this blog to make a blatant advertisement for an island in the Indian Ocean 1,200 miles from the eastern coast of southern Africa. But, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to share with you why I’m so convinced about Mauritius as a gateway to Africa and as a financial center.
Indeed, I have seen in great detail how this country has developed over the past three decades, and it’s impressive. Yes, we had a couple of setbacks here or there, but we are generally seen as having one of the most well-developed banking and financial services industries in sub-Saharan Africa. I want people to know about the advantages of doing business in and from Mauritius.
Here’s an example: One of my clients is a private equity fund with over $100 million held in Mauritius. The company is using the funds to invest in various countries in east Africa. They are providing expansion capital to many companies there, improving the governance in those companies and promoting an international outlook. This shows one way we can use our network to support investments in Africa.
From Mauritius, we support BDO offices in Seychelles, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi, and this allows us to create tailor-made services for local clients. It is not so well known, but actually BDO in Mauritius is larger than our bigger international competitors. That’s why we jokingly call them the Small 4 here. And since we’re a big splash in the region, but seen as a microcosm by those far away, it’s easy to see what’s working well here at BDO Mauritius: We are the market leader in advisory in Mauritius because we invest in our people.
Now a few words on India and China.
I am of Indian descent and was born in Mauritius. My family has been here for roughly four generations. That means we don’t really have much of a connection to India anymore, but we enjoy the food, speak the language and are fans of Bollywood.
Bollywood jokes aside, I would like to point out that the recent renegotiation of the tax relationship between Mauritius and India, which had generated demand in the financial sector, is now more challenging. It is causing us to look closer and harder at business in the East African Community.
Similarly, with the Bank of China having started operations in Mauritius in 2016, we look forward to serving more Chinese companies and facilitating Chinese investments to Africa over the long run. That said, China’s investment in Africa is a story on its own.
Here’s a bit of what the Financial Times has to say about the way Mauritius is carving out our niche with India and China.
If you have specific questions about how I see such matters, please pick up the phone and give me a call.
Oh, that’s another point I forgot to make about Mauritius. Besides being a short flight from Johannesburg and other important cities in Africa, it’s very easy to call us. We’re only three hours ahead of London.