Interview with Mr. Dhanun Ujoodha, Head of Asia Pacific Development and Shared Services, and Mr. Deven Coopoosamy, Partner-Client Relationship, Rogers Capital, Port Louis, Mauritius

  • April 20, 2017

Reviving old ties for new trade
Is this your first time at the Conclave?
This is actually my 2nd time, having attended the India-Africa Business Forum back in 2015, where all 54 African countries were invited.
At such conferences, people talk a lot and several promises are made. However, unfortunately the ground reality in Africa does not match with the talks that happen at such meets. Why don’t we see the results?
There are many interesting conversations happening at such Conclaves, however, we need to realise that India is one country but when talking about Africa, there are 54 nations to be considered. That is why the situation and results will vary between the different African regions. The Indian diaspora is wide-spread in Africa – from Tanzania, South Africa to Kenya and the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, is trying to establish a connection with the Indian diaspora and his efforts are unparalleled by any other leader. The Indian communities definitely have a global presence, which significantly proves the increase in Foreign Direct Investments.The signature of the Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) in 1983 has allowed Indian companies to access the African trading blocs through Mauritius. However, when the Indian economy was opened in 1992, the treaty had been used widely for outbound investment and this is the reason why Mauritius remains the main contributor of FDI in India. Now we are witnessing a surge in outbound investment and trade from India to Africa. Similar to India, Mauritius has got the expertise and capability to further the development of their economy. I admire what Mr. Modi has been doing for all these years. We had noticed a slowdown in the Indian economy, however, now, we can see a positive boost. Yes, the discussions are happening and have been happening for a while now, but significant and positive change cannot happen overnight. It is a meticulous process, that will undeniably take time and energy, considering the different parameters that need to be accounted for. There is much more that needs to be done.

 

“Prime Minister Mr. Modi, too, has said that India is ensuring that all maritime access is being provided to Mauritius. The Indian Government is backing Mauritius for maritime corporation, they are financing our projects and they are building our ports. There are so many new projects coming in. India and Mauritius have so much in common. This relationship with India is a long old tie.”
The 12th CII-Exim Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership aims to give a new strategic direction to India-Africa economic relations. In what ways do you think Mauritius will benefit from this forum?
Mauritius and India have a deep-rooted relationship and there are many initiatives in progress to strengthen this. A considerable number of Mauritians are from Indian origin, and this undeniably creates a bond. This bond is now stronger than ever before in the business environment in India and our own business objectives. And given our strategic location in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has got its own set of attractive advantages. We need to optimize these advantages for both our countries. In the past, India has dealt with many challenges, and it is now Africa’s turn. A businessman looks for a secure environment to invest in; they also want to ensure the benefits of their investments. Their security and comfort is therefore the utmost priority. They know that the communication between India and Africa is essential and that Mauritius is the strategic point in the Indian Ocean to establish the link between India and Africa. Mauritius is right now what Singapore was in the 90s, being used as a platform for mainland China. Mauritius has got all the right components – political stability and hence good governance as well as skilled manpower.
Mauritius, the jewel of the Indian Ocean for business, goes back in history for its use by European traders, due to its strategic location along the Spice Route from Europe to Asia as early as 1598. It is a fact that international trade has a long history in Mauritius, including the creation of the first commercial bank in 1838. Over the years, the country has successfully emerged from a traditional sugarcane monocrop economy to a diversified one, having the financial sector as a major field of activity. The country has also proven that it has the right instruments to weather a range of economic shocks.
That being said, there are so many new projects coming in. India and Mauritius have so much in common. This relationship with India can only keep growing for progress.

 

“Mauritius as a country itself, is known as the star and the key of the Indian Ocean. We have been doing business for over 200 years. For us, the Indian Ocean has been the spice root that goes into Africa.”
Mauritius was the single biggest source of Foreign Direct Investment into India in 2014-15. What are the factors that have given confidence to investors to enhance investments in India?
Mauritius today is a well-established international financial centre, offering a unique hybrid legal framework, robust economic and financial fundamentals within a socio politically stable environment. The country consistently ranks among the highest in Africa, in terms of good governance, ease of doing business, sustainable business climate and competitiveness. While the centre of financial gravity is shifting to Asia, Africa is today becoming one of the world’s fastest – growing emerging markets and increasingly sought after destination for investment and trading. This is where Mauritius, located close to East Africa, is the right jurisdiction for international firms looking to access Africa, India and for African companies to access the world.
Mauritius is privileged to provide access to both the African and Asian trading blocks with a growing population of over 2 billion consumers. We are in the right time-zone, allowing us to service all parts of the world. In terms of infrastructure and connectivity, we are linked by 2 submarine fibre optic cables. Mauritius is also easy to access with an array of direct flights into Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
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The world has been struck by Digitisation. India, too, was swept by this wave particularly after the demonetisation drive of the Indian Government. How does Rogers Capital Corporate Services Limited plan to leverage Information Technology in its services?
First of all, we need to salute the Prime Minister of India for having the courage to take the bold decision of ‘demonetisation’. I feel that when he took this decision, he meant business, to curb the parallel economy of black money, which is injurious or the country. ‘Demonetisation and Digitisation go together.’ That is why everyone across the world hailed this move. This will prove to be a boost to your inbound and outbound investments. Through digitisation, we are trying to bring the concept of a cashless economy. Cashless economy, helps to reduce corruption which will allow the Government to focus on savings.
In India, a huge population did not have bank accounts. Eventually, with Digitisation, the use Aadhar Cards is making life easier for people are now able to do online transactions safely. With the necessity of digitisation, people had to open bank accounts, transact money, and keep their money in the bank accounts. The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax with an attempt of ‘One nation One tax’ is a wonderful initiative. The GST is definitely going to aid the ease of doing business and the Government benefit, financially.
And as far as Rogers Capital is concerned, we are one of the leading systems integration providers in Mauritius and in the Indian Ocean region with proven expertise and credentials into the fields of software engineering, cloud services, digital transformation, infrastructure management, connectivity and disaster recovery management. We firmly believe that financial services can only grow with digitally crafted solutions.

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