Dear Valued Investors,
We are concluding another eventful year on a high note. As is the case every year, 2017 brought in its stride its bundle of shocks and surprises, knotting together a hope for a better future, as main economic indicators have finally stabilized following years of high volatility.
In fact, it has been a case of right opportunities taken at the right time. The crisis uncovered outdated ways of doing businesses, forcing each and every one to rely on more and more efficient means of conducting businesses.
Amongst the several antidotes that have been developed, Fintech has emerged as a real disruptor to the global ecosystem. Distributed ledgers, blockchain, smart contracts, APIs and robo-advisors have made redundant a range of activities and cut the need for the middleman. At the same time, initial coin offerings, decentralized autonomous organization and cryptocurrencies are offering interesting alternatives to traditional systems.
This anti-establishment strain is also visible in the rise of the sharing economy, also known as the collaborative economy, the gig economy or peer economy. The success of companies like Uber, AirBnB, Snapgoods or UberEats signal an era of organized anarchy that reduces to a minimum the intervention of the state, regulators and established MNCs in the functioning of an economy.
The conundrum of course lies in the reconciliation of the objectives of Government in terms of consumer protection and regulation versus innovation that is making processes more efficient.
2017 has seen some innovative policy-making in this respect, based on the principle that innovation should not be constrained, but rather be guided.
The Regulatory Sandbox License, although announced a year before, has taken off impressively in 2017, with an overwhelming number of projects from developers around the world showing their interests in using the solid institutional and regulatory framework of Mauritius to set up activities in domains as diverse as crowdlending, crypto-asset backed loans or identity management systems.
5 licenses were issued by the Board of Investment (BOI) during the year after careful analysis of the risks and benefits associated with the projects. Working in close collaboration with the regulators, terms and conditions, respectful of the need to protect consumers and the good repute of our jurisdiction, were drafted. The Board of Investment will strive to come up with guidelines that will encompass a wide variety of projects in the Fintech space, and ensure that we attract only credible projects while allowing our economy to derive optimum benefits from them.
BOI has, thus, during the year concentrated its efforts in sector development initiatives, given the constant need to reinvent our economic structure. A workshop on Marine Biotechnology, for instance, was organized to understand how best we can use our resources from the vast EEZ to develop niche products.
The improvement of the business environment was also a key action area for the Government. Following several years of poor performance in the World Bank Doing Business Report, the hemorrhage came to a stop following an aggressive operation by the BOI to eliminate obsolete administrative bottlenecks. The result was remarkable, with Mauritius being ranked 25th in the 2018 World Bank Doing Business Report.
In parallel, the organization pursued its efforts to facilitate investments into the economy. FDI inflows into Mauritius reached a record level in 2017, and this amount is expected to be further surpassed next year, based on the marketing efforts of BOI and the existing pipeline of projects.
The efforts of the organization were rewarded with plaudits around the world. Earlier this year, BOI won the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Investment Awards 2016 for the best Investment Promotion Agency in the Indian Ocean region. BOI has also been rewarded for the best investment project in the Southern African region for two consecutive years at the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) Investment Awards 2016 and 2017. No later than a few weeks back, BOI won the United Nations Awards for promoting Investment in the SDGs 2017 and the Best Film Shooting Destination of the Year. The award has been conferred by the “International Film Business Award” during the 3rd edition of the Indywood Film Carnival. The organisation was also elected as a new member of the WAIPA`s Steering Committee for Sub-Saharan Africa.
As the institution is called to transition into the Economic Development Board following its merger with the Financial Services Promotion Agency (FSPA) and Enterprise Mauritius, it is important to reflect upon the contribution of BOI over its 16 years of existence in shaping the current economic structure and the people who have made it possible. The institution has been a solid ally of the Government in putting forward the right strategies as well as implementing them, and its staff will endeavor to do the same over the coming years.
A brief overview of key activities in 2017 is provided in this edition of the newsletter, as well as some strategic thrusts of the institution for next year.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and the staff of BOI, I would like to express my appreciation to all stakeholders for the support extended throughout the year and wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2018.