E-commerce in Mauritius

December 10, 2020 - 9 min read

 

Here are the benefits of having your e-commerce company in Mauritius

With e-commerce activities expected to be growing exponentially, especially in Africa, Mauritius can play an important role in its development. Indeed, Mauritius ranks first among African countries on international indices, including for ICT development and ease of doing business.

With this in mind, the government has introduced a scheme for the domiciliation of electronic platforms and their related ancillary activities in Mauritius. Companies setting-up an e-commerce (i.e. holder of the e-commerce certificate) in Mauritius will benefit from a 5-year tax holiday.

This combines with the distinctives attributes of Mauritius:

  • Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs) with major African countries
  • First country in Africa for doing business (World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index)
  • Good corporate governance (1st in Africa on Mo Ibrahim’s Governance Index)
  • Free and democratic political system
  • Hybrid legal system (Common Law and French Civil Code)
  • Qualified and experienced workforce (English and French)
  • Reliable banking system
  • No foreign exchange controls, capital gains, nor withholding tax

 

 


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E-commerce in Mauritius: a competitive platform for your online activities

The Government of Mauritius is putting particular emphasis and focus on the development of innovative sectors. These include Fintech – consisting of a new regime for Robotics and AI-enabled financial advisory services – and e-commerce, a sector for which Mauritius wants to become a major player. With the e-commerce scheme, which extends to activities that take place within and from Mauritius, the objective is to provide a framework to:

  • to enable e-commerce operators to conduct commercial transactions through electronic networks; and
  • to provide information in respect of marketing, supply, trade, order and delivery of goods or services.

With 21.8% of the world’s population (about 1.8 billion people) shopping online and e-commerce sales to the amount of USD 2.8 trillion in 2018, the growth of e-commerce over the past two decades has been impressive. Approximately a quarter of the African continent’s population has access to the internet and, with fast increase in the number of smartphone users, this number is expected to grow even faster.

According to McKinsey Global Institute’s “Lions go digital: The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa” 2013 report, the firm projected that annual online sales could reach USD 75 billion by 2025. With Africa’s in internet connections growth from 2.1% in 2005 to 24% in 2018, no wonder why the continent’s is an attractive place for e-commerce.

 

Eligibility criteria for obtaining an e-commerce certificate

An e-commerce operator will be eligible to apply for an e-commerce certificate if he satisfies the following conditions:

  • Domiciliation of the technology entirely in Mauritius, including, but not limited to, platforms, main servers and nodes, client relationship management systems, software, policies;
  • Principle supply chain management in Mauritius;
  • Have a principal place of business in Mauritius including bank account and physical office;
  • Payment infrastructure including clearing and check-out systems based in Mauritius;
  •  Invoicing to be conducted in Mauritius at all times and revenue attributable through the e-Commerce platform shall be accrued in Mauritius;
  • Minimum of 10 resident personnel including 2 at senior management level, who shall conduct its core income generating activities in Mauritius;
  • Servicing at least 3 countries as consumer markets;
  • Minimum operating expenditure of at least MUR 10 million per year;
  • Minimum capital investment of at least MUR 5 million, inclusive of hardware, software and/or logistics; and
  • Transactions carried out in a multitude of currencies.

If the company is not able to fulfill the above requirements, it may still apply for an e-commerce certificate provided it meets another set of requirements, as follows:

  • minimum capital investment of at least MUR 20 million in Mauritius, including hardware, software and logistics;
  • at least 20 suitably qualified resident personnel, including 2 at senior management level, who shall conduct its core income generating activities in Mauritius;
  • engaging in e-commerce activities in high priority sectors including but not limited to Retail, Electronics, Fashion and Apparel, Entertainment, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Real Estate, Energy and Education; and
  • incurring minimum expenditure proportionate to its activities.

 

Sunibel accompanies you in setting up your e-commerce in Mauritius

The Mauritian government is committed to accelerating the country’s move to an age of digitally enabled economic growth. Being part of Africa, Mauritius looks forward to fostering further innovation and bringing more prosperity to the region.

The team of Sunibel will guide you in the setting up the corporate entity that will allow you to carry out your activities as an e-commerce in Mauritius, and serve the world. Our services include:

  • Structuring and setting up of your company
  • Accompanying you in the application for the e-commerce certificate
  • Provision of directors and company secretary
  • Opening of bank accounts in nominated currencies
  • Opening of necessary merchant account facility with selected bank(s)
  • Accounting and bookkeeping (including tax filings)
  • Corporate administration and other services
  • Provision of registered office address and sourcing of staff
  • Assistance with Occupation Permits and relocation

 

What are the different forms of e-commerce?

The World Trade Organisation defines electronic commerce, or e-commerce, as the “production, distribution, marketing, sale or delivery of goods and services by electronic means”, most notably through the internet. Simply put, it allows the consumer and the buyer to complete transactions online. The major advantage of e-commerce is that it makes products and services cheaper and more accessible to consumers. The different forms of e-commerce are:

Online shopping

It is the process of shopping on a digital platform. The product you choose to buy can be either tangible or intangible. For instance, you can buy a tablet on Amazon, or you can purchase the latest album from your favourite singer, directly on your phone (or laptop) from iTunes. You can even register for a Master’s degree online through e-learning platforms such as Coursera.

Internet Banking

Although some operations have to be made at the bank, almost all banks nowadays offer services through their website: transferring money, opening a new account, pay off credit cards, or applying for an overdraft facility.

Electronic payments

Some companies offer, on their website, an online payment service that allows for online transactions. For instance, they often use PayPal for the secure transfer of funds.

Purchasing tickets and online booking

With digitisation, no need to go to a ticket office and stand in line. With online shopping, it is easy for consumers to purchase tickets for concerts or movies and bus or train online. Restaurants or hotel reservations can also be made online.

Online auctions

Many websites allow people to place bids and acquire products at competitive prices online. Like real auctions, only that the product cannot be seen physically.

Online entertainment

This form of e-commerce can be described as subscription-based. The company gives access to its ‘resources’ against a monthly/yearly subscription fee, such as Netflix and Spotify.

 

What are the different types of e-commerce?

Business-to-business (B2B): is the exchange (electronic) of products and/or services between businesses: the supplier and the buyer. This type of e-commerce includes online product and supply exchange websites that allow businesses to search for products or services, and to initiate transactions through e-procurement interfaces.

Business-to-consumer (B2C): it is the most popular form of online shopping and refers to businesses selling products and services to individual consumers. Nowadays, there are a large number of virtual stores selling all types of consumer goods.

Consumer-to-consumer (C2C): consists in the trading of products, services and information between consumers. Usually, this type of transaction is carried out through an online platform provided by a third party such as eBay and can take the form of online auctions (see above).

Consumer-to-business (C2B): are individuals that make their products or services available to businesses to purchase online. Popular examples of C2B platforms include iStock (where users sell their photographs, images, media and design elements) and Fiverr (freelance service marketplace).

Business-to-government (B2G): also referred to as business-to-administration, consists in electronic transactions between businesses and government institutions or public administration.

Consumer-to-government (C2G): consists in online transactions between consumers (citizens) and government bodies or public administration. However, it is not the process where the government buys products or services from citizens. Rather, it is the use of electronic systems by citizens to make payments, file tax returns, etc.

Mobile e-commerce (m-commerce): features electronic transactions made via mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, through the use mobile applications. M-commerce includes mobile shopping (online shopping through a mobile device), mobile banking, and online (mobile) entertainment.

 

Advantages of e-commerce

E-commerce holds numerous benefits that makes it more convenient to consumers. They are:

Accessibility: unlike traditional bricks and mortar businesses – which tend to open for fixed hours and may be closed during public holidays or weekends for instance, these websites are accessible 24/7, allowing visitors to browse and shop online at any time.

Speed of access: technological advancement and faster web browsing make e-commerce more attractive to consumers. No need to get out of the bed, go to the store, look for the product you want and queue up to be able to check out. When buying online, a few clicks (or touches for smartphones) are enough to engage in a transaction.

Global reach: bricks and mortar businesses (with no online shopping option on their website) sell to consumers who physically visit their stores. E-commerce allows businesses to sell their products to any customer who has access to the internet, extending its customer base to the world.

Practicality: while customers shopping physically may have to go through a whole store to find that they are looking for, e-commerce provides visitors with the ability to browse products, or categories of products. This search feature makes it easier for the consumer to find the product(s) he/she is looking for.

Lower cost: although they may have to incur warehousing costs, other costs such as employees’ salary or rent do not apply to e-commerce businesses, lowering the total cost of a product.

Product recommendations: e-commerce websites track consumers’ search and purchase history. This allows them to display/recommend products based on consumer preferences.

 
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Disclaimer and important notices

This document has been prepared using sources believed to be reliable. However, their accuracy and completeness cannot be fully guaranteed. The statements and opinions it incorporates were formed after careful consideration and maybe subject to change without notice. This document is not, and should not be construed as, an offer or the solicitation of an offer to sell any services. The use of any information contained in this document shall be at the sole discretion and risk of the user. Sunibel Corporate Services Ltd does not provide legal or tax advice and this document should not be construed as such. Sunibel Corporate Services Ltd expressly disclaims any and all liability for inaccuracies contained in the document and shall not be held liable for any damage that may result from any use of the information presented herein. For more information, please see our terms and conditions.

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