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Mauritius investment policies may become blueprint for Africa’s smart cities

Firmly established as Africa’s most progressive business orientated jurisdiction, Mauritius’ forward-thinking and nimble policies have resulted in the island nation riding the wave to the centre of investment and development in Africa.
While its business-friendly framework and investment orientated tax policies are firmly established, the growing multi-sector opportunities for developers on the island are increasingly attractive for investors, developers and property professionals.
Chief among these primary opportunities is the country’s Smart City Scheme which has caught the eye of developers, policy experts, investors and city planners across the world says Kfir Rusin, the host of the Africa Property Investment (API) Summit, the continent’s largest property investment and development conference taking place on the 20 and 21 September 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Business Hilights gathered that the Africa Property Investment Summit & Expo (API) is Africa’s largest and most premier real estate event. It connects the most influential local and international Africa property stakeholders, driving investment and development into a wide range of real estate and infrastructure projects and developments across the continent.
API Events deliver Africa’s most renowned events in real estate investment and development. Our events across the continent have become the ultimate meeting places for Africa’s property market to learn, network and most importantly to do deals. The company also hosts the API Awards – these prestigious awards provide a platform for distinguished developers, suppliers and owners in the African real estate industry, to showcase their best projects and services. Other services provided by API Events include training programmes and the recently launched Skyline Magazine.
Rusin observed further that “We have more than 600 delegates from 35 countries attending this year, and more than 50 delegates from Mauritius alone, which is proof that it has become a prime hub for investment in Africa and also provides unique opportunities.”
While the definition of what is a smart city varies depending on geography and policy, in Mauritius’ case – a Smart City can be described as: A concept of urban development focused on improving the quality of life of city dwellers by making the city more attractive, adaptable, efficient and resilient to change, using new technologies that rely on an ecosystem of objects and services.
In comparison to other smart city projects – a Mauritian Smart City is a privately funded new project and not a redevelopment of an existing city or neighbourhood says Olivier Desvaux de Marigny of Medine, whose Uniciti Smart City sits on 350 hectares, and is particularly geared towards higher education.
Officially launched in 2015, the scheme currently consists of ten focused cities, which have attracted an estimated $3.5 Billion in investment. The rapid advancement of the cities from concept to investment are of significant interest to international and regional investors and developers seeking to use the Mauritius smart city concept as a blueprint for Africa future developments, comments Rusin.
And while the scheme launched just three years ago, many of the developers started to create their mixed-use developments on their own sites in the early 2000s due to the need to diversify from sugar-based dependency for the major land-owning groups.
As Desvaux de Marigny pointed out, “The termination of the sugar protocol in the cane industry left sugar estates with no choice but to diversify. And with a land bank of 10 000 Ha, in the case of Medine, the diversification strategy through real estate projects represented an opportunity.” (The sugar protocol for decades ensured that sugar produced by ACP (Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific) countries had access on the European market quota free and at a guaranteed price.)
To provide insights into these cities and the country’s real estate investment opportunities, this year’s API Summit has launched the Mauritius Forum, which will cover how these smart cities are transforming the country and share what lessons have been learnt so far with the Summit’s pan-African and international audience.
With four of the country’s premier smart city developers – Novaterra (Beau Plan) Medine Group (Uniciti), ENL (Moka City) and Omnicane’s (Mon Tresor) – and the Mauritian Economic Development Board’s Sachin Mohabeer in attendance and numerous stakeholders presenting and participating in key panel sessions at the summit – the event will provide detail for the investors and developers to consider these attractive investments.
Providing the platform for the cities to share their experiences and challenges, as well as the policy drivers behind such a large-scale scheme is critical – as many privately funded developers have allocated more than $100 Billion across the continent for greenfield cities, according to the latest research conducted by Pan African property research firm Estate intel.