Investing in Africa via Mauritius
Mauritius is a parliamentary representative, democratic Republic with the President as the Head of State and the Prime Minister as the Head of Government. Mauritius is a member of regional and international organisations such as the African Union, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), La Francophonie and the Indian Ocean Rim.
The Mauritian legal system is a hybrid system which draws legal principles from both French civil law and British common law. The legal system has over the years emerged into a unique system of Mauritian law. While the Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority on the island, Mauritius has however maintained a right of appeal against final decisions of the Supreme Court to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England.
Mauritius has built up a strong financial services sector with an efficient regulatory regime, well-established banking institutions and a stock exchange which is one of the leading exchanges in Africa. Although Mauritius is better known as a gateway for investments in Africa and India, the country has also grown to become a leading jurisdiction for private client services in the region.
With a series of Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAS) with African countries such as Egypt, Madagascar, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, Mauritius provides an interesting platform for investments into Africa. Other IPPAS with countries like Gabon, Rwanda, Turkey and Zambia are awaiting ratification. Mauritius has also signed an IPPA with Singapore. IPPAS provide for free repatriation of investment capital and returns and guarantee against expropriation. They also provide for the most favoured national rule with respect to treatment of investors and compensation for losses in case of war and armed conflict. They also include arrangements for the settlement of disputes between investors and contracting states.
The Mauritian legal framework on international arbitration brings international arbitration principles in an entirely new body of rules, completely separate from those governing domestic arbitration, and which are designed in line with international principles and practices underlying the UNCITRAL Model Law on arbitration. The Mauritian International Arbitration Act 2008 is a modern piece of legislation which creates a conducive environment for international arbitration disputes resolutions in Mauritius. The Convention on Recognition of Foreign Arbitral Awards Act 2001 which implements the New York Convention 1958 (acceded to by many African countries) applies to any award delivered under the International Arbitration Act.
The creation of the MCCI Permanent Court of Arbitration in 1996, the opening of the first overseas Permanent Court of Arbitration of the Hague office in Mauritius in 2010, and the launch of the LCIA-MIAC in cooperation with the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), firmly establish Mauritius as a leading venue for international arbitration in Africa.