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Mauritius raises 2016 tourism earnings forecast by 1.8%

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – Mauritius said on Friday that tourism revenue in 2016 will be 1.8 percent higher than it had previously forecast, after a surge in visitors during the first half.

Tourism is a valuable source of foreign exchange for the tiny Indian Ocean country known for its luxury spas and beaches.

Earnings from the sector are now expected to reach 56 billion rupees this year, up from an earlier forecast of 55 billion in May, according to Statistics Mauritius, an official body.

Last year, tourism earnings totalled 50.2 billion rupees.

The statistics agency also raised its forecast for 2016 arrivals to 1,250,000 tourists from 1,240,000. Visitors in 2015 numbered 1,151,723.

In the first half of 2016, Mauritius attracted 586,464 tourists, up 9.9 percent from a year earlier.


(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Aaron Maasho and Dominic Evans)

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Mauritius exporters see Brexit crimping textile export earnings to UK by 10%

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – Revenues generated by Mauritius from textile exports to Britain will decline by about 10 percent this year as a result of the British vote to leave the European Union, the country’s export association said on Monday.

The EU is Mauritius’ largest trading partner. The Indian Ocean island nation earns an annual average of 25.55 billion rupees ($722.77 million) from goods shipments to the bloc.

Britain remains the largest buyer of Mauritian goods within the EU, accounting for 18 percent of total exports to the bloc. Textiles are Mauritius’ top export to the UK, followed by seafood and sugar.

“Quantity wise, there will be a drop of 10 percent in our exports to the UK as a consequence of the fall in consumerism level in UK coupled with the depreciation of the pound,” the export group said in a report.

The Mauritius Exports Association (MEXA) report said 90 percent of all revenues from exports of textile and apparels to the UK comes in pounds while imports are in U.S. dollars.

MEXA said exporters’ profitability is expected to be “squeezed both in terms of exports and imports; exports revenue being depleted with the depreciation of the pound…and costs being inflated with the appreciation of the U.S. dollar.

“Companies are thereby faced with a double whammy.”

In 2015, textile and apparel exports to Britain amounted to 6.57 billion rupees, according to MEXA data.

($1 = 35.3500 Mauritius rupees)


(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; editing by Elias Biryabarema and Mark Heinrich)

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Mauritius’ trade deficit widens 22.1% in May

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – Mauritius said on Friday its trade deficit widened 22.1 percent to 6.91 billion rupees ($195.47 million) in May from the same period a year earlier, hit by a dip in exports of machinery and transport equipment.

The Indian Ocean island nation’s earnings from exports fell 6.5 percent from a year before to 7.46 billion rupees in May, the government’s statistics office said in a statement. The United States was the main destination for Mauritius’s exports, followed by France and Britain.

Foreign sales of machinery and transport equipment declined to 687 million rupees in May from 1.19 billion rupees in the same period last year.

Total imports rose 5.4 percent from a year before to 14.37 billion rupees in May. Some 20.3 percent of imports in the period came from China.


($1 = 35.3500 Mauritius rupees)


(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Catherine Evans)

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The World Bank names Mauritius as Africa’s top business destination

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

business mauritius

An annual report from the World Bank has picked out Mauritius as the best place to conduct business in Africa, so just how has the island nation achieved this?

Mauritius has been named as Africa’s most business friendly country by the annual “Doing Business” report from the World Bank. The report seeks to help potential investors (and governments) identify how easy it is to create startups and investment opportunities across the globe. While Africa as a continent does not fare particularly well, Mauritius came in at number 32 on the global list, which made it the comfortable winner in Africa.

The top 5 African nations showed a diverse geographic spread, with Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa and Tunisia following, in that order, on the heels of Mauritius. A quick glance at Africa’s worst performing nations would provide no surprises, as Eritrea propped up a bottom 5 of the DRC, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Libya.

Any nation struggling with armed conflicts and political unrest is not going to provide the ideal base for creating new business opportunities, so while the bottom of the table comes as no surprise, what is it about Mauritius that has seen it take the top position?

Stability, simplicity and low taxes

Mauritius is first and foremost a fairly safe country. Not only does it not suffer from the unrest of many African nations, but it has low crime rates, and a small population which is governed by what the Economist Intelligence Unit called Africa’s only “full democracy” back in 2011. While this may no longer be fair to other nations, it is clear that Mauritius is a society with low levels of corruption and good personal safety.

Prime Minister's Office in Mauritius

Prime Minister’s Office in Mauritius

In addition to this, the Mauritian government has gone out of its way to reduce the amount of red tape involved in starting up a business. This ongoing strive to create a business-conducive atmosphere is highlighted by the 2014/15 changes to building permit rules, in which the process was streamlined to allow new ventures to start running as quickly as possible.

It now only takes 14 days to register a property, and 3-6 days to start up a new business. To help ensure the wheels on each sector of the economy run smoothly, the government has also invested heavily in education. The net result of this focus is that Mauritius has the highest rate of literacy in Africa, at 86%.

South Africa’s high commissioner to Mauritius, Nomvuyo Nokwe, told South African media that not only had Mauritius made it simple to register new businesses but that its development of education was also key. Nokwe stated, “It has highly skilled professional people…it’s made doing business easy, because you have [educated] people to work for you.”

Perhaps one of the most significant aspects to Mauritius’ burgeoning business growth, and yet one with some controversy, is its low taxation. The Africa 2016 Wealth Report referred to the huge growth in millionaires in Mauritius, but this included many from other nations who had moved there. The report found that “Mauritius was the top performing African country for millionaires during this period, with growth of 160 per cent…company and personal income tax rates are only 15 per cent, with no inheritance or capital gains tax.”The controversy around this is that some feel the nation is just a tax haven for the wealthy, and moreover that much of the money coming into the country is simply passing through. There are concerns around the rich, from nations like Kenya, using Mauritius for tax purposes, as its income tax rate is an attractive 15%.

Does the economy match the reputation?

Dipolelo Moime, chief executive of business risk consultancy Legato Services, believes it is more innovation that has attracted outsiders, saying, “Mauritius is continually reinventing and reforming itself massively to ensure the country is as business-friendly as possible, in order to attract multi-national corporations.”

Despite this, the issues around money just passing through cannot be ignored. There is an entire business strategy known as “The Mauritius Route”, which describes how investors in India use the island nation as a conduit to connect them to Indian markets. In fact, 39.6% of foreign direct investment to India, between 2001 and 2011, made its way via Mauritius.

However, this money does not pass through Mauritius in a vacuum, and the banking and legal processes it utilizes are legitimate businesses which create revenue streams for the host nation.

As things stand, Mauritius is not one of Africa’s largest economies, but the World Bank report did not base its findings on GDP, it based them on how easy it was to set up a new business in a nation, how well developed infrastructure was, and how attractive a destination was for new investment. In these measures, Mauritius must warrant its ranking.

As of 2016, Mauritius can boast the highest per capita GDP in Africa, with a 2016/17 predicted GDP growth of 5.7%. In addition, the nation’s stock exchange is widely regarded as one of the best in Africa and is worth over $7 billion. These figures are for a nation of only 1.2 million inhabitants.

Most significantly, the government is not resting on its laurels. The Mauritian government has drawn up a blueprint to diversify the economy, and invest in new industries, while continuing to develop existing ones. “Green growth” is at the forefront of plans to maximize the nation’s coastlines, with a goal of 8-9% economic growth per annum, which will ultimately lead to Mauritius being a high income status nation by 2025. The plans have worked thus far, so investors from far and near will be watching with interest.

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Mauritania, Senegal seek to become oil, gas exporters

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

senegal gas

The two West African countries bet on a long-term recovery as global fuel prices slump.

In spite of the slumping price of oil in the past year, two West African countries are betting on a long term recovery as they race to produce enough oil and gas to become exporters by 2020.

Mauritania and Senegal both report promising off shore oil discoveries and each nation plans to proceed with multi-billion dollar extraction projects.

However, David Thomson, an analyst with Wood Mackenzie cautioned that securing financing for the projects could be challenging and take time. “These projects are massive and they’re very capital intensive,” Thomson said.

Offshore wells promising

In Senegalese waters, Cairn Energy reported that it had drilled three wells that revealed significant amounts of oil off Africa’s western extremity. Drilling was planned at a fourth, according to the Scottish energy company’s chief executive, Simon Thomson.

The United States company Kosmos Energy said it had confirmed a large pool of natural gas that straddled the Mauritanian-Senegalese border at sea and it planned to drill in the area.

The projected yield is 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, an encouraging threshold for further drilling, Kosmos spokesman Thomas Golembeski said.

Other African nations wait

The Senegalese and Mauritanian plans contrast with other nations such as Tanzania and Kenya, which are delaying tapping similar resources until the economic climate improves.

Nadine Kone of Oxfam International questioned the wisdom of Senegal’s and Mauritania’s plans. “Why rush with oil given where prices are now?” Kone asked.

After increasing by 20 percent in April, global oil prices fell in early May to below $45 a barrel and experts predicted weakened demand.

Senegal oil

Producers see increase in demand

Golembeski said the Kosmos thinks demand will have increased by the time the gas site is ready to deliver. He cited the ease of shipping to Europe as an advantage for exports from the region.

“Demand for oil and gas will continue to increase over time as more and more people around the world move from rural areas into the cities and want the conveniences of modern life,” he said.

Both countries have enjoyed steady economic growth in the past five years.

With a population of 3.6 million and a gross domestic product of $15.5 billion, Mauritania has seen sustained economic growth, primarily as a result of growth of the mining industry. The country is Africa’s second leading exporter of iron ore and also exports gold and copper.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the nation’s gross domestic product saw a growth rate of more than 5 percent on average during the past five years.

Senegal’s economy has grown at an average annual rate of 3.5 percent in the past five years, the foundation said, but volatility of economic growth has undermined progress in social development and fighting poverty. The nation has a population of 14.5 million and a gross domestic product totaling $33.6 billion. Senegal is primarily rural and has historically had few natural resources, relying instead on agricultural exports.

In 2015, with a growth rate of 6.5 percent, Senegal was the continent’s second fastest growing economy. Services, chemical production and construction drove growth.

Questions about oil proceeds

Kone of Oxfam questioned whether the five-year window the energy companies are projecting from exploration to sale is enough time to create a legal framework to regulate the governments’ use of proceeds from their 10 percent shares in projects within their boundaries.

Despite economic growth, both countries suffer from youth unemployment and chronic poverty and many residents do not have access to housing, health services, education or even clean water.

Kone cited Ghana, which discovered oil in 2007, as a model in the region that Mauritania and Senegal might emulate. Ghana created a dedicated fund from the proceeds that it used to invest in priority areas such as education and agriculture.

A contrasting example is Nigeria, where the state-run oil agency withheld billions of dollars funds that were designated for government services. Nigeria derives about 70 percent of its revenue and is Africa’s top producer of crude oil.

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Mauritius says tourist arrivals up 12.5% in Q1

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – The number of tourists visiting Mauritius rose 12.5 percent in the first quarter of 2016 from a year ago, thanks to increased arrivals from Europe and Asia, official figures showed on Monday.

Tourism is a key source of hard currency for the Indian Ocean island state, which like other long-haul destinations in the region has turned east in search of visitors to compensate for weak growth in its traditional European markets.

Arrivals in the first three months of 2015 increased to 327,836 from 291,329 a year earlier, Statistics Mauritius said.

Numbers from Europe, which accounts for two-thirds of visitors, rose 18 percent to 199,525 as arrivals from France, the island’s main market, increased by 4.7 percent.

The number of tourists visiting from Asia rose by 7.3 percent to 49,289, helped by an 11.1 percent increase in arrivals from India.

The statistics agency expects visitor numbers to rise 6.7 percent to 1,230,000 this year.


(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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Bank of China targets Africa with Mauritius banking licence

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – The Mauritius central bank said it has issued a banking licence to Bank of China, the first Chinese bank licensed to operate on the Indian Ocean island.

Zhang Xiaoqing, who is leading a team setting up the Mauritius unit, said Bank of China wanted to provide financial services to African businesses and serve multinationals and others doing business between China and Mauritius.

Bank of Mauritius Governor Ramesh Basant Roi told reporters on Friday the bank was expected to start operations in the next few months but did not give a date.

Mauritius has a growing financial industry and has been promoting the territory as a base for businesses working in Africa and beyond.


(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Edmund Blair and Alexander Smith)

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Mauritius business confidence bounces back in last quarter of 2015

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – Higher sales volumes boosted business confidence in Mauritius during the last quarter of 2015 after a decline in the previous quarter, a survey of leading private-sector companies showed on Thursday.

The Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s quarterly confidence index climbed 6 percent to 93.4 points. However, the index remained well below the long-term average of 100 points since the third quarter of 2012.

The Indian Ocean island’s economy grew by an estimated 3.4 percent in 2015, down from a forecast of 3.6 percent issued in September. Statistics Mauritius forecast growth at 3.9 percent this year with an expected rebound in the construction sector.

Chamber economist Renganaden Padayachy said 49.1 percent of business leaders interviewed in the survey said expansion and diversification prospects into new markets were the main growth drivers in the last quarter of 2015.

“A majority of enterprises are confident for 2016 and expect an improvement in their business this year,” he told a news conference.


(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Dale Hudson)


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Mauritius tourist arrivals rise 10.4% in 10 months to Oct

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – The number of tourists visiting Mauritius rose 10.4 percent in the 10 months to October from the same period last year, with more arrivals from Asia, figures showed on Friday.

Tourism is an important component of the economy and a key source of hard currency for the Indian Ocean island state, best known for its luxury spas and beaches.

Arrivals increased to 912,770 during the period, the ministry of Tourism said. Numbers from Asia rose 24.1 percent to 166,487, with visitors from China up 42.4 percent.

“Barring any unexpected circumstances, we should attract an additional 100,000 tourists this year,” Xavier-Luc Duval, the minister of Tourism said in a statement.

Last month Duval told Reuters in an interview that a major focus was boosting numbers during the island’s winter season, running from June to September, by drawing more visitors from India, China, Africa and Russia.

The number of tourists visiting from Europe, which accounts for two-thirds, rose by 9.9 percent to 487,487.

Despite the rising numbers, central bank figures suggested tourist revenues in the first half had fallen by 3.5 percent. The tourism minister said hotels had not seen a revenue fall and the central bank has said it is reviewing its figures.


(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; editing by Drazen Jorgic and John Stonestreet)

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Mauritius 3-year Treasury bond yield rises to 4.56%

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – The weighted average yield on Mauritius’s three-year Treasury bond rose to 4.56 percent on Wednesday from 4.51 percent at a sale of a similar bond on Oct. 21, the central bank said.

Bank of Mauritius sold all the 1 billion rupees ($28.04 million) worth of debt it had offered. Bids totalled 2.625 billion rupees, with yield offers ranging from 4.25 percent to 5.14 percent.

The bond has a coupon rate of 3.72 percent and is due on Aug. 21, 2018.


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