Mauritius launches fund to help companies expand in Africa

PORT LOUIS Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:12am EST

PORT LOUIS Feb 19 (Reuters) - Mauritius launched a 500 million rupee ($17 million) fund on Wednesday to buy stakes in companies on the Indian Ocean island that want to expand their business in Africa.

Finance Minister Xavier Duval said the government would buy stakes of up to 10 percent but did not mention any specific companies.

"We are optimistic to attract more partners like pension funds and private equity funds which would help to increase the Africa Fund to 2 billion rupees," Duval said.

A rapidly growing workforce, urbanisation, and a surge in the number of middle class consumers has prompted the African Development Bank to predict African consumer spending will almost double in the next decade. Retail, telecoms and banking are expected to be the main growth sectors.

"Africa is the springboard to the next phase of our development," Swadicq Nuthay, Chief Executive at AfrAsia Capital Management said. "Having a sovereign fund as an investor will add credibility to projects and help attract more capital."

Mauritius has been trying to reduce its reliance on tourism, sugar and textiles and now has growing businesses in offshore banking, outsourcing, luxury real estate and medical tourism.

($1 = 30.2100 Mauritius rupees) (Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by James Macharia/Ruth Pitchford)

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