Interview with Mr. Vishnu Bassant, Director of Cooperation and Infrastructure, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Mauritius
In this interview, Mr. Bassant underscores the important role of the AfDB in future infrastructure and energy projects in his country, following a brainstorming session organized by the Bank’s Operations Vice-presidency (ORVP). Participants in the September 3 meeting in Tunis included experts from the private sector, African Development Institute, the Bank’s Permanent Committee for Decentralisation (PECOD), Executive Directors, and the Bank’s Field Offices.
Question: How would you sum up this knowledge-sharing seminar with the African Development Bank?
Answer: I am grateful to the Bank for inviting me to give a talk to Bank staff on our experiences in development effectiveness.
I have had constructive meetings with AfDB’s Vice-president Zondo Sakala and the various Bank officials – the Regional Director South-B, the Permanent Committee for Decentralisation, the Private Sector department, as well as the institution’s experts. I am glad we have agreed to give an impetus to our cooperation. For our part, we are eager to work with the Bank over the next 10 years in the most comprehensive way, in line with our discussions with President Kaberuka during the Bank’s annual meetings in Arusha. We then made specific proposals, relating to a US $10-billion infrastructure program and we want the AfDB to be on board.
We need to come up with a methodology that will concretely help us to come together and involve the Bank in Mauritius’ future infrastructure and energy projects.
Also, regional integration is important for Mauritius. We rely on the continent to accelerate our own economic development. Mauritius cannot grow if Africa’s economy stagnates. We therefore need to accelerate the pace of economic transformation in Africa.
Question: The bedrocks of your country’s economy – tourism, manufacturing, textiles and financial sectors – have been hit by the global crisis. What measures can be taken to boost your economy and what is the AfDB’s role in that process? What should the Bank do differently?
Answer: In the global economic context, things are not too bright and the impact on Mauritius has been severe. We are struggling to put in place systems and institutions, to improve the public sector, and to restore the financial sustainability of public enterprises through pricing adjustments. The business environment has improved tremendously. These are major opportunities for the Bank to play a catalytic role, in Mauritius in particular and on the continent in general. It is high time for the Bank to put in place a panel of PPP experts for Africa, backed up by a pool of regional talents under the quality control mechanism of the Bank.
We want to work collectively for the Bank to play the leadership role in Mauritius. Let’s make the wishes of President Kaberuka happen.