AfDB and Mauritius Discuss Opportunities to Advance Development Cooperation
“The Mauritius Experience – Deepening cooperation with the African Development Bank and Regional Member Countries (RMCs) and the challenges it poses” was the subject of a brainstorming session organized by the Bank’s Operations Vice-presidency (ORVP) on Monday. Discussions on the theme included helping to enrich the Bank’s knowledge base and the need to strengthen and sustain gainful cooperation with RMCs in general and with Mauritius in particular.
The meeting brought together experts from ORVP, the private sector, the African Development Institute, the Bank’s Permanent Committee for Decentralisation (PECOD), Executive Directors, as well as the Bank’s Field Offices to learn from Mauritius’ experience in weathering the global economic and financial crisis. The seminar also aimed to hear how the institution can help the country strengthen ties with the rest of Africa and better contribute to the socioeconomic transformation of the continent.
Launching the platform, Vice-president Zondo Sakala affirmed that the African Development Bank would continue to make a deliberate effort to strengthen its partnership with Mauritius and would facilitate stronger linkages between the country and other RMCs. “More than ever, we are focused on supporting middle-income countries, helping them to meet their development challenges,” he said.
The guest speaker, Vishnu Bassant, director of Mauritius’ Finance Ministry, provided an overview of the country’s economy and suggested a way forward in terms of collaboration with Bank and other RMCs, while Regional Department South-B Lead Economist Ernest Addison briefed the meeting on an Indian Ocean Commission Flagship Study Report.
Mr. Bassant reviewed his country’s cooperation with the Bank and urged the institution “to play a leading role in joining his country’s effort to migrate from Middle Income to a High Income country status with first-class infrastructure.
“Mauritius has an investment opportunity of US $10 billion,” he revealed, expressing eagerness to work collaboratively with the Bank.
The speaker highlighted his country’s requirements, which included, among others: strengthening of the AfDB liaison office in Mauritius with the presence of an expert in infrastructure to steer the proposed program; putting in place a middle income country (MIC) grant, as well as a grant for a pilot labour mobility and skills development program. He also expressed the need for capacity building and for the establishment of a pool of regional experts for peer support and knowledge exchange. Specific emphasis was made on the establishment of a panel of PPP experts to structure infrastructure projects in the same manner that China and India have done.
The meeting highlighted the country’s future projects in the areas of land transport, port and airport development, energy, water and sanitation, information, and communications technology.
Mr. Bassant also revealed that his country ranks high in protecting investors (13th worldwide and 2nd in Africa), and that it offers the right policies and a conducive business environment in the form of flat tax rates, double taxation, avoidance treaties, investment promotion and protection agreements, bilateral treaties and labour mobility.
During the question and answer session, all participants agreed to give new impetus to cooperation and to further enhance partnerships with Mauritius in the areas identified.
The Bank’s Private Sector Manager Tas Anvaripour confirmed that the institution has the means and needs to take leadership on the PPP program. “This is a good partnership starting,” she said.
PECOD President Mohamed H’Midouche commended Mauritius for its economic performance and initiatives and urged the authorities to further strengthen its partnership with the Bank’s regional offices.
Describing the meeting as “a big presentation,” Regional Department Director South B Chiji Ojukwu said the Bank would work in collaboration with other organizations to meet Mauritius’ needs and challenges. “The Bank’s role is not only to give money, but also, among others, to provide technical assistance and capacity building and we are glad to move forward with Mauritius,” he said. To that end, African Development Institute Manager Bernadette Kamgnia emphasized that the Bank would support Mauritius in capacity building.
Highlighting the country’s economic performance, V-P Zondo Sakala stressed the need to help find appropriate mechanisms for financial resources mobilization for Mauritius. He also touched upon selectivity in Bank projects as well as the role of Regional Economic Communities. “The meeting reflects the Bank’s emphasis on enhancing development cooperation,” he stated, adding that the Bank’s impact would be felt on the US $10-billion program “for which Mauritius wants us to be on board.”