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April 2014: Developing the Biohub of Africa

Dear Valued Investors,

The April edition of our newsletter focuses on biotechnology and it highlights the potential that it represents for our economy.

Indeed biotechnology has revolutionised the delivery of healthcare services, the development of alternative energy sources as well as the means to tackle the world food crisis. In the near future, biotechnology is expected to penetrate, and be applied to, various spheres of economic activity.

This branch of scientific research and development has been identified as a sphere with immense potential for high value-added activities which cut across various fields namely health, agricultural, marine and industrial sectors. In fact, the promotion of biotechnology can be a key factor towards the creation of high-income jobs.

In this perspective, last month has been particularly marked by the organization of BioAfrica 2014, a two-day conference held on 23rd and 24th April.

The objective of the conference was to point up the promises of this field and present major developments, opportunities as well as the challenges confronting the business community at large. The two-day event saw the participation of some 200 local and foreign delegates who have engaged in high-level deliberations on the potential of Mauritius as a biotechnology hub for the African region.

On the domestic level, remarkable progress has been achieved regarding the application of biotechnology in several sectors, namely pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, research and cosmetology. We are confident that biotechnology will contribute significantly to the national economy in the near future.

Renowned international companies like Johnson & Johnson, Carl Zeiss and Perouse Medical have chosen to invest in Mauritius. There are good signs that this trend will be maintained, especially with companies gearing up to seize new opportunities on the African continent.

Today, the sector contributes around USD $100 million to the economy and more than 1,300 jobs have been created. Over the last three years, FDI inflows in biotech have been to the tune of USD 28.7 million.

I invite you to read two interviews of seasoned practitioners in this field. Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim talks about her research focused on the chemistry of plants and natural products and their utilisation for the production of safe and less expensive medicine. Dr. Rashmi Barbhaiya explains the factors that must be considered for the long-term development of a vibrant biotechnology sector in Mauritius.

Another encouraging piece of news is that according to the newly released World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2014 (GITR), Mauritius has recorded a strong performance by moving up seven points from last year’s ranking. Mauritius now occupies the first place in Africa and holds the 48th position globally in information technology.

Also, Mauritius ranks 34th out of 132 countries in the 2014 Social Progress Index. The country has realised a strong performance in terms of basic human needs, opportunities and access to basic knowledge.

Still on a positive note, the latest report issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes has confirmed that our financial services centre is robust and transparent. Mauritius is shown to have implemented recommendations made by the Global Forum, and maintains an overall “Largely Compliant” rating.

Finally, to further consolidate the position of Mauritius as the gateway to Africa, the Board of Investment is organising the maiden edition of Chief Executive Officers of Investment Promotion Agencies of Africa - “Mauritius Africa Partnership Conference” on 25th and 26th June 2014 to showcase the investment opportunities present in emerging African markets. The aim of the conference is to strengthen collaboration between Investment Promotion Agencies with a view to optimising the growth potential of Africa.

We look forward to welcoming you at this forthcoming event.

Ken Poonoosamy

Managing Director


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