The Mines and Money Access Africa Summit, which tackled the theme of investment in the mining industry in Africa, opened June 24, 2014 at the Intercontinental hotel at Balaclava in Mauritius with some one hundred local and international delegates.

In his keynote address, Mauritius Commerce and Industry Minister Cader Sayed Hossen, stressed the launch of the ocean economy in line with the government’s decision last year.

“The ocean economy will become for us within the next 10 to 15 years an important economic pillar, because although Mauritius is a very small island, it boasts an ocean territory covering more than 3 billion square meters,” he said.

He went on to note that the Mauritian government has provided a subsidy on freight cost for Africa exports, and highlighted the African-Mauritius scheme which is aimed at encouraging African youngsters to study in Mauritius by granting scholarship.

He concluded by encouraging firms to use Mauritius as their logistics platform as the island economy is working in close collaboration with the African nations to better understand their investment needs.

“Africa must be modernised and industrialised. Africa must skill its people and build its infrastructure – and Mauritius is working hand-in-hand with Africa to make this happen,” he concluded.

Ken Poonoosamy, Managing Director of the Mauritius Board of Investment (BOI), spoke of Mauritius as an International Financial Centre with preferential market access to 26% of the world population.

Furthermore, Mauritius boasts the second largest wool mark knitwear supply in the world, and is also ranked third in terms of tuna exports.

“Mauritius will become a high income economy by 2020 with a GDP per capita of about USD 14,000,” he stressed.

With 29 firms listed on the stock exchange and 930 global funds registered here, the island has an excellent track record as a regional financial hub.

“Our ambition is to become the definitive gateway for cross border investments between Asia, Europe and Africa,” he added.

Hamlet Morule, Executive, Corporate Affairs and Investors Relations at South African mining major Wesizwe Platinum, noted that his firm’s strategy is to focus on high value Platinum Group Metals (PGM) and other strategic metals with long-term demand that will enable the group to grow into a sustainable mid-tier mining house.

“Those interested in the mining industry in South Africa must make sure they comply with the country’s mining policies,” he highlighted.

Divya Krishan, TAS Manager at Indian steel-making major Tata Steel, spoke about assessing India’s appetite for Africa’s rich coal, iron ore and ferro-alloy deposits.

She highlighted that India is taking the initiative to build relations with Africa because it is a promising continent.

“Africa’s long-term growth prospects are promising because of its global economic ties, growing access to international capital, emergence of the urban African consumer and the continent’s green revolution in agriculture, though risks remain,” she mentioned.

Kamben Padayachy, Deputy CEO, Head of Global banking and Treasury at Mauritius-based financial services major AfrAsia Bank, said that mining accounts for 5.6% of South Africa’s GDP and noted that big mining ventures such as Shumba Coal are listed on the Mauritius stock exchange.

Sacha Backes, senior investment officer at the Mining Investment Division – Africa, International Finance Corporation (IFC), indicated that Africa is the largest producer of several metals world-wide with 30% of global reserves and the World Bank estimates USD 90 billion for African mining in five years.

Besides, an exhibition took place throughout the day to promote mining projects and to showcase service and finance companies to a local and international audience.

– By Marie-Lorry Coret and Cecilia Samoisi

Image (Cecilia Samoisi): Ken Poonoosamy, Managing Director of the Mauritius Board of Investment (BOI), noted that Mauritius was likely to become a high-income economy by 2020, with a GDP per capita of about USD 14,000.

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