Xavier-Luc Duval is the finance minister of Mauritius and also the Vice-Prime Minister. He has an honour’s degree in economics from Leeds University and is a chartered accountant.
He comes from a family with strong political roots – his father Gaetan Duval was a leading figure in the political landscape and his own career has been fairly dramatic. In 1993, he took over the leadership of the Parti Mauricien Social-Démocrate (PMSD). In 1995, he became Minister of Tourism and Industry under Sir Anerood Jugnauth but resigned in the same year. He returned to the government in 1999 and has since held ministerial portfolios as well as the position of Vice Prime Minister. He has been in his current position since 2000 under the alliance with the Labour Party led by Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam.
Xavier-Luc Duval has set out to privatise virtually all the enterprises in which the state has a stake and believes that Mauritius is on the brink of becoming a high-income economy. Continental Africa is very much a centrepiece of his wider economic outlook and he is convinced that Mauritius can play a vital role as the bridge between Africa and the increasing number of investors looking to the continent for growth.
Interview by Anver Versi.
African Banker: How do you see Mauritius’s role in supporting Africa’s current growth spurt?
Xavier-Luc Duval: While Mauritius has been a well-established channel for investments into India, I believe we have a wider role to play now by facilitating investments into Africa at this very critical point in the continent’s economic history.
Africa is the next frontier. As any other frontier market, it has risks. There are business and other risks. Therefore it is quite normal that investors and businesses will try and mitigate those risks. This is where Mauritius has something valuable to bring to the equation; we can help to reduce the risks associated with investing in Africa.
Setting up a business in Mauritius has a number of advantages. Let me mention a few. You have a stable, democratic system of government, there is the rule of law – our appeal court is heard at the Privy Council in London – and we have a fast, efficient and very modern communications.
In addition, there are thousands of excellent accountants, lawyers and other professionals. We have IT specialists and other industrial and financial technocrats. Whatever your business, you have a whole range of expertise available to you.
On top of that, of course, we have a light fiscal regime with maximum taxation of 3%; there is no tax on dividends, no tax on capital gains and no tax on interest earned abroad.
We also have double taxation agreements with 12 countries. We have just signed one with Kenya. Mauritius provides excellent physical security – an important aspect in Africa.
Therefore, when you consider all the factors that go into mitigating risk, you will find that Mauritius has got all the bases covered.
Mauritius has been ranked 1st by the World Bank in terms of the ease of doing business and, with South Africa, it is the most competitive country in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Economic Forum.
In fact, Mauritius has been right at the top of most continental development indicators for decades now.