Firmly established as Africa’s most progressive business orientated jurisdiction, Mauritius’ forward-thinking and nimble policies have resulted in the island nation riding the wave to the centre of investment and development in Africa.
While its business-friendly framework and investment orientated tax policies are firmly established, the growing multi-sector opportunities for developers on the island are increasingly attractive for investors, developers and property professionals.
Chief among these primary opportunities is the country’s Smart City Scheme which has caught the eye of developers, policy experts, investors and city planners across the world says Kfir Rusin, the host of the Africa Property Investment (API) Summit (www.APIevents.com), the continent’s largest property investment and development conference taking place on the 20 and 21 September 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“We have more than 600 delegates from 35 countries attending this year, and more than 50 delegates from Mauritius alone, which is proof that it has become a prime hub for investment in Africa and also provides unique opportunities.”
While the definition of what is a smart city varies depending on geography and policy, in Mauritius’ case – a Smart City can be described as: A concept of urban development focused on improving the quality of life of city dwellers by making the city more attractive, adaptable, efficient and resilient to change, using new technologies that rely on an ecosystem of objects and services.
In comparison to other smart city projects – a Mauritian Smart City is a privately funded new project and not a redevelopment of an existing city or neighbourhood says Olivier Desvaux de Marigny of Medine, whose Uniciti Smart City sits on 350 hectares, and is particularly geared towards higher education.
Officially launched in 2015, the scheme currently consists of ten focused cities, which have attracted an estimated $3,5 Billion in investment. The rapid advancement of the cities from concept to investment are of significant interest to international and regional investors and developers seeking to use the Mauritius smart city concept as a blueprint for Africa future developments, comments Rusin.
And while the scheme launched just three years ago, many of the developers started to create their mixed-use developments on their own sites in the early 2000s due to the need to diversify from sugar-based dependency for the major land-owning groups.
As Desvaux de Marigny points out, “The termination of the sugar protocol in the cane industry left sugar estates with no choice but to diversify. And with a land bank of 10 000 Ha, in the case of Medine, the diversification strategy through real estate projects represented an opportunity.” (The sugar protocol for decades, ensured that sugar produced by ACP (Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific) countries had access on the European market quota free and at a guaranteed price.)
To provide insights into these cities and the country’s real estate investment opportunities, this year’s API Summit has launched the Mauritius Forum, which will cover how these smart cities are transforming the country and share what lessons have been learnt so far with the Summit’s pan-African and international audience.
With four of the country’s premier smart city developers – Novaterra (Beau Plan) Medine Group (Uniciti), ENL (Moka City) and Omnicane’s (Mon Tresor) – and the Mauritian Economic Development Board’s Sachin Mohabeer in attendance and numerous stakeholders presenting and participating in key panel sessions at the summit – the event will provide detail for the investors and developers to consider these attractive investments.
Providing the platform for the cities to share their experiences and challenges, as well as the policy drivers behind such a large-scale scheme is critical – as many privately funded developers have allocated more than $100 Billion across the continent for greenfield cities, according to the latest research conducted by Pan African property research firm Estate intel.
As Rusin says, “As a vehicle for investment and development into African property; Mauritius continues to grow, and these benefits will be unpacked in detail, with a core component of this year’s forum being focused on the live, work and play lifestyle these forward-thinking developments are planning to achieve.”
And while lifestyle and technology aspects of these cities include open data platforms – which make use of ubiquitous urban sensing technologies and big data analytics for efficient functioning of the cities– the key to these cities is that they are driven by demand and designed to uplift the lives of all residents, transients’ whether locals or foreigners.
As Desvaux de Marigny says, “The GDP per capita is lower in Mauritius compared to other markets around the world where developments of a similar scope are happening. Therefore, the development of the smart cities needs to adapt to the purchasing power of its potential citizens.”
But while the cities’ modern look, convenience and better quality of life are attractive selling points the cities are an extension of the smart and nimble economic development policies employed by the government to attract and retain investment says Novaterra’s Joel Couve de Murville. “The Cities are a strategic decision to encourage investment but within a sustainable framework. Beyond the tourism industry, Mauritian lands are one of the main assets of the island.”
To safeguard the island’s natural appeal and develop sustainably and not haphazardly is a key outcome of the scheme adds Medine’s Development Manager Desvaux de Marigny, “The guidelines and requirements promote a better urban planning, which will bring an orderly organisation in cities, which until now were being developed without proper master planning.”
As Samuel de Gersigny, Director of Moka Smart City comments, “Mauritian Smart Cities follow a unique model: they are the result of an ambitious economic development programme aimed at consolidating the Mauritian international business and financial hub by creating ideal conditions for working, living and spurring investment.”
And while the economic benefits are clear they allow for direct ownership; creating cities from a clean slate provides significant benefits adds Samuel de Gersigny. Mauritian Cities suffer from a lack of real urban planning which resulted in congestion problems within the country. Well planned developments, such as what we’re trying to achieve at Moka, will benefit all.” With more than 15,000 residents already residing in the Moka Smart City, the redevelopment of the mixed-use initial plan to certified fully-fledged smart city is proving to be successful.
With billions in investment already, the Smart Cities of Mauritius will be a central topic of interest for many regional, international and smart investors expects Rusin. “The cities and the professionals driving them will be of major interest to our delegates from a technical, technological and networking perspective, but also from a policy standpoint – how the right incentives are critical to attracting sustainable investment into these mega projects. We believe this is fundamental to the development of other such cities in Africa, and I believe the number of speakers and delegates from across Africa will find these topics transformative.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Property Investment (API) Summit & Expo.
Contact: Murray Anderson
Phone: +27 11 250 2260 | +27 71 890 77 39
Email: [email protected]
About API Events
The Africa Property Investment Summit & Expo (API) (www.APIevents.com) is Africa’s largest and most premier real estate event. It connects the most influential local and international Africa property stakeholders, driving investment and development into a wide range of real estate and infrastructure projects and developments across the continent.
API Events deliver Africa’s most renowned events in real estate investment and development. Our events across the continent have become the ultimate meeting places for Africa’s property market to learn, network and most importantly to do deals. The company also hosts the API Awards – these prestigious awards provide a platform for distinguished developers, suppliers and owners in the African real estate industry, to showcase their best projects and services. Other services provided by API Events include training programmes and the recently launched Skyline Magazine.
For more information, you can visit: www.APIevents.com
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.