Through its stable, open and business-friendly environment, Seychelles is eager to position itself as a stepping stone for Chinese investors into Africa.
Strategically located in a cyclone-free belt in the Indian Ocean, inside a favourable time zone between Asia and Europe, Seychelles has more than just geography to its advantage.
Since it launched a comprehensive reform programme in late 2008, the country has set about building a business-friendly economy. In the last year alone Seychelles climbed 29 spots in the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings to 74th place. Ratings agency Fitch has also rewarded Seychelles’ reforms by upgrading the country to a ‘B with positive outlook’.
Combined with a strong legal foundation based on a hybrid of common and civil law, Seychelles provides a stable, secure and welcoming environment to foreign investment.
“Our government is constantly exploring avenues to make the investment climate more conducive for the private sector to thrive,” Minister of Finance Pierre Laporte told Parliament in his 2013 budget address. “We invested significant time and resources to ensure that it is easier, less costly and less bureaucratic for anyone aspiring to do business in Seychelles.”
Such avenues include the opening in 2012 of the submarine cable link to Africa, providing the islands with the latest technology in telecommunications and potentially opening new opportunities for investment. Indeed, last year, the International Telecommunications Union ranked Seychelles first in Africa for ICT infrastructure.
Through its strong British-style education system, which provides a highly skilled English-, French- and Creole-speaking workforce, the country is keen on boosting its IT skills to further take advantage of the new submarine cable. “Our schools are now ensuring that every school leaver is IT-educated,” says Rupert Simeon, CEO, Seychelles Investment Board. “If we want to promote Seychelles as a service centre, this has to start from the schools.”
Other infrastructure upgrades will include the heart of the Seychellois economy – the port in the capital Victoria. As the only deep channel port in the region, the improvements aim to assist those companies that aim to tap into south and east Africa free trade groupings COMESA and SADC, of which Seychelles is a member state.
Although a small country, Seychelles is happy to play this to its advantage. “We might be small but in terms of services we are as big as any other country,” explains Simeon. “You can meet a minister, you can meet the President. Everything is done according to the laws, policies and regulations in place. This is a secure place that will benefit the investor.”
As the second largest contributor to GDP after tourism, the Seychellois fishing industry is opening up to private investors. With no piracy incidents reported since 2011 and with the Port of Victoria undergoing redevelopment, Peter Sinon, Minister of Natural Resources and Industry, reports a steady influx of interest in smaller processing plants and fishing licences for the abundant stocks of tuna and sea cucumber.
Through the country’s new Energy Act, Seychelles is actively encouraging investment in wind energy, waste renewal and, in particular, solar power. The new Act also allows anyone to produce, buy and sell energy. Although short on land, Rolph Payet, Minister of Environment and Energy, believes rooftops could hold the solution to tap into the islands’ plentiful solar resource.
New securities exchange
Launched at the end of 2012, the Seychelles Security Exchange, Trop-X, offers listings in any currency and is free of capital controls. Focusing on Africa, Bobby Brantley, CFO, feels the new exchange can become the ideal (and economical) investment hub for Chinese investors to route their investments into Africa.
Connectivity / cable / telecom
The Seychelles East Africa System (SEAS) submarine cable connected the islands with the latest telecommunications technology in October 2012. Benjamin Choppy, Chairman, Seychelles Cable Systems Limited believes this will not only support the budding financial services industry but also assist the development of other possible industries including data centres, call centres and games and server hosting.
Originally posted on: the-report.net