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Is Rwanda a real threat to the Mauritian jurisdiction?

Mauritius has been following with attention the development of the Kigali International Financial Centre (KIFC) in Rwanda. Indeed, the development of the Rwandan IFC is seen as the emergence of a serious competitor to the Mauritian IFC itself as for a long time, Mauritius was imposing itself as the jurisdiction of choice for investments into Africa. Rwanda and Mauritius have both, over the last few years, shared Africa’s top rankings for ease of doing business. The two countries also share an amicable working relationship that builds on their competitive advantage in this regard and have entered into a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) ever since 2014. The DTA was meant to promote commerce, trade and business generally between the two nations which have in fact also signed an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) in 2001. The IPPA is not yet in force.

Is this emergence of Rwanda a real threat to the Mauritian jurisdiction? Will Mauritius lose its clients to Rwanda? These are legitimate questions.

Our partners at DLA Piper Africa (Mauritius and Rwanda) express their views on this debate:

 Marc Hein

Marc Hein, Senior Counsel and Chairman

DLA Piper Africa, Mauritus (Juristconsult Chambers)

“It is our duty to look after our clients and offer them the best available legal services. We have been giving legal advice to our clients using the Mauritian jurisdiction for a long time and if some of those clients are now looking at the Rwandan jurisdiction and plan to have a presence there, it is our duty to help them.

The Rwanda IFC can be seen as a competitor but it may also be seen as complimentary to what Mauritius offers and in any event Mauritius service providers need to make the best of the situation. Better swim with the tide than against it.”

 Nicolas Richard

Nicolas Richard, Attorney and Managing Partner

DLA Piper Africa, Mauritus (Juristconsult Chambers)

“Many service providers to the Mauritian IFC are now setting up branch offices or subsidiaries in Kigali and there will be interest in Rwanda, either for direct investment in Rwanda or for others which might set up a Rwandan company to invest elsewhere in Africa. We have a large client base with multinationals doing work in Africa and we are ready to give advice relating to cross border transactions in Mauritius and Rwanda.”

 Moses Kiiza

Moses Kiiza, Partner

DLA Piper Africa (Equity Juris Chambers)

“Rwanda has concluded an exceptional number, being 24 Double Taxation Treaties providing a safe, beneficial, and transparent tax framework for foreign investors. Moreover, KIFC observes international legal and regulatory standards which ensures legal certainty and improves the already present pro-business environment.”

 Calvin Mitali

Calvin Mitali, Partner

DLA Piper Africa (Equity Juris Chambers)

“the KIFC is developing Kigali to become a leading Financial Centre, stimulating investment and business in Rwanda and Africa as a whole, it is therefore without a doubt that it will in the near future become a gateway to Africa.”