CEO of AfrAsia Bank, Sanjiv Bhasin

Australian resources and investment entities looking for opportunities to gain a foothold across the African continent have been urged to use the small island state of Mauritius off Africa’s east coast, as their entry gateway.

Speaking at the Paydirt 2018 Africa Down Under mining conference in Perth, the case for a Mauritian entry into Africa’s mineral potential was prosecuted by the CEO of the AfrAsia Bank, Sanjiv Bhasin.

He told delegates Mauritius was unusual in the combination of financial, taxation, investment and political regimes it could offer international investment communities wanting to expand, or tap into Africa’s exploration, project development and mining opportunities.

In addition to a very strong domestic economy, Bhasin pointed to Mauritius’ simple tax jurisdiction and access to both DTAAs and IPPAs as a means of offering investment protection to overseas plays.

“Mauritius has ratified 44 Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) with leading developed and emerging economies around the globe,” Bhasin said.

“This has precipitated fiscal benefits and tax efficient planning of a scope and calibre amendable to resources entities looking to provide a level of protection and security around their move into the broader African minerals economy.

“Mauritius also offers full protection of foreign investment in key African nations through its network of Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPA).

“These guarantee Mauritian investment in regard to expropriation and social unrest in contracting states.

“The IPPAs also provide for arrangements for settlement of disputes between investors and the contracting states. That is the sort of investment comfort Australian miners and explorers are looking for in joint venture and other commerical partnerships covering African resources projects.”

Mauritius has currently signed 44 IPPAs, including with 23 African countries – “so this gives Australia’s resources sector a significant choice of project and investor options in Africa”, he said.

Bhasin also advocated the use by Australia’s resources players of Mauritius’ efficient investment structures pertaining to Africa.

“This includes multi-currency capital raisings in every form, and from debt to equity, backed by an OECD compliant jurisdiction and regional arbitration centre.

“The Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) also offers the potential for a dual Mauritian-Australian Stock Exchange listing and that has appeal,” he said.