Dear valued partner
‘PAN-AFRICANISM AND AFRICA RENAISSANCE’
This month’s Newsletter is set in the back-drop of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the African Union (AU), successor of the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU), the apex Pan-African Organisation of 54 nations, which was established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, the Capital of Ethiopia. In these last 50 years, Africa has metamorphosed from ‘a hopeless Continent’ to emerge as a ‘rising and hopeful Continent’ and a dynamic force in the international arena. As political stability, democracy and economic reforms take the centre stage, the world attention is now focussed on Africa, which is home to some of the fastest growing economies, to lead the new round of growth. African also celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism.
From a historical perspective, Africa is today perhaps at a similar level of economic development as Singapore in the 1960s, South Korea in 1970s, China in 1980s and India in 1990s. And if Africa is to grow at the rate it has expanded over the last decade, on the average of +5.6%, Africa can match and even surpass other developing regions. With its vast natural resources (diamond, gold, coal, oil and gas), abundance of cultivable land, huge pool of educated youthful population, fast urbanisation and technology leap-frogging among other growth variables one can visualise the power of the African economy in two to three decades. The dynamism of Africa is now universally acknowledged as ‘acquis’ and which justifies the ‘rush’ to the continent for investment and business space by all major economies. Africa strategy now occupies an important place in the global growth equation.
This week on the 27 May, the African Union Heads of State and Government were again assembled in Addis Ababa for the 21st Summit to celebrate 50 years of AU and they unanimously re-affirmed their commitment to continue to build a united and integrated Africa, hence the theme ‘2013, Year of Pan Africanism and Africa Renaissance’. The scene is now set for the creation of an integrated Africa through the merger of all Regional Economic Communities by 2017.
Mauritius was represented at this Summit by Dr the Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, who champions the cause of African Unity and reaffirmed Mauritius’ irreversible commitment to the faster integration of the Africas. The Prime Minister was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade.
Mauritius is particularly active on the African Continent on the diplomatic as well as economic fronts. Government continues to open-up new opportunities by expanding our network of Bilateral Agreements with the Continent through Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAs) and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs). Mauritius is also engaged at multilateral levels with COMESA and SADC to enhance trade and investment in the region.
Interestingly, exports from Mauritius to Africa accounted for 18.77% of total domestic exports last year and reached Rs 10.5 billion representing a 22% increase over 2011. Similarly Mauritian investment in the region has increased substantially over the years. The resultant is a new dynamism for engagement in Africa with more frequent business exchanges between operators of the private sector and greater synergies between public sector agencies.
To strengthen this new dynamism, the Board of Investment and Enterprise Mauritius, for the first time, jointly organised the Mauritius Trade and Investment Forum (MATIF), an integrated platform for fostering trade and investment with Africa. The theme of MATIF is ‘Source Africa –Invest Africa’ . The first edition of MATIF was held in Kenya on 8 and 9 May 2013. Some 50 Mauritian entrepreneurs participated in this pioneer event and had intensive B2B meetings with over 600 Kenyan businessmen and investors over the two days. This marks the beginning of a formal collaboration between the two promotional agencies to position Mauritius as a reliable Business Destination for trade and investment. In this regard, two editions of MATIF are planned in Africa targeting Zimbabwe and Ghana this year. A special budget item under the National Resilience Fund (NRF) has been earmarked for such joint promotional campaigns in Africa.
To further boost exports from Mauritius, two new measures have been introduced by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, viz:-
- Extending the facilities under the International Trade Fair Grant Scheme to SMEs to allow 2 participants per company (instead of 1) to attend selected trade fairs and Buyers Sellers Meetings; and
- LEMS FOREX – a special finance leasing scheme of Rs 1 billion to exporting enterprises towards enhancing their competitiveness through modernisation of the production and business processes. The loan will be repayable at a fiscal rate of interest of 2.9% for USD and 2.75% for Euro loans per annum.
Despite the severe economic conditions prevailing in our traditional markets, exports from Mauritius continue to grow steadily. Exports of Export Oriented Enterprises (EOEs) reached Rs 14.7 billion for the January to April period compared to Rs 14.5 billion during the corresponding period of 2012, representing an increase of 1.8%. On the other hand, exports for Domestic Oriented Enterprises (DOEs) continue to remain buoyant targeting mainly the Africa region.
TeamEM continues its aggressive campaign on Africa. We have completed three Market Surveys on Zimbabwe, Malawi and Madagascar and were forcefully present at the Foire Internationale de Madagascar (FIM 2013) with 44 exhibitors. TeamEM will be present next month at SAITEX 2013 in South Africa which will be followed by a Buyers Sellers Meeting in Maputo, Mozambique.
To support the market diversification, TeamEM is also working on the Russian, German and Turkish markets. We will keep our valued readers informed of all developments.
On a different note, TeamEM wishes to thank Mrs Danielle Wong, who retires today as Director of MEXA for her unflinching support and contribution to the manufacturing sector. We wish her best of luck in her future endeavour.
We wish you pleasant reading.
Chief Executive Officer