The Africa Centre of Excellence for Business is part of the Africa Strategy as announced in the last Budget. According to the organization, more than 100 businessmen visited its premises in November and December last year seeking information on business opportunities in Africa.
In parallel, some 225 people from 22 countries registered on the official website, www.boiafrica.com. It is expected that this number exceeds a thousand at the beginning of the year until the Africa Centre reaches its cruising speed. For this year, prospecting missions are also on the agenda in some specific African cities, especially in East Africa and West Africa.
The goal is to support our local entrepreneurs to new horizons to find new markets but also sources of investment. For cons, the Board of Investment (BoI) does not abandon traditional markets such as the United Kingdom, France, India and South Africa. Other countries in the field of vision of the agency include China, Russia and Germany. Management is satisfied with the performance of the Africa Centre so far.
The team Poonoosamy Ken has worked on priority areas for this year. Thus, manufacturing, biotechnology, education, ICT-BPO, financial services and medical industries are at the top of the agenda in 2013.
This sector contributes approximately up to 18% of GDP just celebrated its 40th anniversary in Mauritius. The manufacturing sector is experiencing a major transformation, moving away from traditional methods to embrace high technology require highly skilled labor. This year marks the entry into operation of the new plan encouraging companies exporting exclusively to Africa to settle in the freeport and enjoy attractive benefits. According to the BoI, this measure will give a new boost to the manufacturing sector remains an important pillar of our economy.
The country has made remarkable progress in the application of biotechnology in several sectors, including pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, research and cosmetology. Thus, the BoI believes that biotechnology will play an important role in the economy in the near future. Already renowned international companies have chosen to invest in us, and the trend will continue, especially with companies involved in biotechnology and eyeing the African market. A bill, the Pre-Clinical Research Bill will be tabled in Parliament this year. This legislation will open other opportunities in the sector.
Mauritius aims to become a center of knowledge in this part of the Indian Ocean. In this context, the country has attracted several international institutions to implement programs and here are intended for foreign students. In 2012, the country had about 1,200 students. We hope to see this number increase to 2,000 this year. Even if we are far from the ambition to host 10,000 students by 2020, the sector's long way to achieve this goal. A 'Study Mauritius Office has been established to take care of all the paperwork for foreign students and to facilitate access to housing. The government also wants to encourage Mauritians studying in Mauritius instead of always turning to foreign universities. Thus, the grant system has been modified to allow those who wish to opt for a local institution.
The BoI believes that the ICT-BPO sector attract new activities this year, with the development of hi-tech segment. Major niche in the field of cloud computing, 'apps', financial research, the' risk analytics, and other services with high added value will help to revitalize this sector, especially with increased demand for services such as high-tech e-commerce, data centers, Legal Process Outsourcing, software testing, technical helpdesk, among others. According to figures from Statistics Mauritius, exports of services sector ICT-BPO grew by Rs 3.1 billion in 2010 to Rs 4.6 billion in 2011. The figures for 2012 could be even more encouraging, although the rate of growth will be low due to the ongoing crisis.
Increased development in trade between Mauritius and Africa and between Africa and Asia, through Mauritius, catalyzes the financial sector and encourages players to offer new services to support the axis Asia-Maurice-Africa. The BoI said it is time to diversify products and explore new opportunities to strengthen the role of Mauritius as a regional financial center and international. Other segments this year to strengthen the Fund Management, Investment Advisory, Investment Banking, Treasury Management and Research Analytics.
The 'medical hub' of the Indian Ocean seems to be growing if we rely on official figures. In 2012, more than 21,000 foreigners have turned our health centers for medical treatment, which represents an increase of 70% compared to 2011. However, some believe that the industry warned to be careful with the interpretation of these figures, because according to the current method of accounting, any alien who has recourse to a doctor for a consultation or who is admitted to a clinic for one health problem Benin during a visit to Mauritius is automatically included in the statistics.
Similarly, thousands of foreign investors and professionals who need to make a thorough medical examination to obtain a residence permit is also recorded. All these people are not necessarily medical tourists. By cons, we do not have an idea of the total amount spent by foreigners in the medical sector. However, an estimated 25 000 the number of foreign patients to seek treatment from us this year.