Q: Mauritius has indeed been a byword for efficiency and competitiveness in Africa but what areas can you improve upon?
A: One aspect we want to improve on is our air connections to a number of African capitals. We have good links to Johannesburg – I think twice a day – but are very poorly connected to the rest of the continent at present. We are actively looking for partners to increase our inter-African connectivity.
For example, Mozambique operates flights to Portugal and South Africa. If they come to Mauritius, they can connect with the world.
We are constructing a new airport terminal which will help us to substantially increase our connectivity to the rest of the world.
Q: Traditionally Mauritius has always been seen as a gateway between India and Africa, but it would appear that now you want to be the bridge between Africa and the rest of the world?
A: Yes, that is the logical outcome. We were in London to talk to various businesses with strong interests in Africa and most have welcomed the idea. We can see ourselves as another Hong Kong, a safe investment and business hub for the continent. We offer companies a very sound base from which to operate.
Q: What is the status of your stock exchange?
A: It is fairly well developed but we are looking at possibilities of joint venture with other stock exchanges. It’s not as big as some exchanges in Africa or as active as we would like it to be, but it is there.
We have about 30 banks on the island. Most of them are international banks, so you can raise funding. Our association with India has enabled all our professionals to understand the world of international finance – that is the invaluable asset we possess.
Q: Hong Kong has positioned itself as an important base for investments into mining in Africa – and elsewhere, of course. Can Mauritius play a similar role?
A: Yes, we are discussing how to further develop our stock exchange. But also there’s a lot of money under management, you see, that’s the word, being managed by our banks but that’s also short-term investment.
We’re trying to develop facilities for secondary and tertiary education, like Wellington College in Mauritius, for the region. This will involve boarding schools. We also have first-rate medical health facilities which can provide top quality healthcare for the region.