Mauritius, a stable and relatively wealthy African island nation, has announced plans to fund a "cyber-city" in Ghana to attract investment and "high-calibre professionals" to the country.
The idea was announced by Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, Mauritius’ minister for foreign affairs, during a visit to Ghana last week. He said the project would be sited in Dawa, on the western outskirts of Accra, assuming it was approved by Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo (pictured), who won last month’s general election.
In the country to attend the inauguration of the president-elect, Lutchmeenaraidoo said the development would have "innovation towers, conference centres, finance towers, an ICT plaza and serviced plots for regional headquarters for ICT companies".
Lutchmeenaraidoo also pledged to support Ghana’s sugarcane and poultry industries, local media reported.
He added that schemes such as this were underpinning Africa’s economic take-off. He said: "In 15 years, people will queue to be in Africa. But before that will happen, we have to prove that we mean business and that we can handle the management of our own countries."
In 15 years, people will queue to be in Africa. But before that will happen, we have to prove that we mean business and that we can handle the management of our own countries– Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, Mauritius’ minister for foreign affairs
The decision by Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean, to invest in a west African country reflects the strong relations between the two nations, which recently waived their visa requirements.
Last April, Mauritius initiated a $110m scheme to build a special economic zone, also in Dawa. Finance for that project was provided by the African Mauritius Fund, which was set up to encourage Mauritian enterprises to investment on the African continent.
This is not the first "cyber-city" to be proposed for Ghana. In 2013 the head of Ghanaian company RLG Communications, Roland Agambire, launched plans for an IT business hub called Hope City, intended to draw high-tech investment and jobs.
That scheme, however, is yet to get off the ground, with local media dubbing it a "white elephant" in July last year.
In response Hope City’s spokesman insisted the scheme would still happen.
Lutchmeenaraidoo, meanwhile, added that all the projects Mauritius intended to undertake in Ghana had support of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank. He said: "We have an umbrella of support from all these financial institutions and they follow our activities keenly," he noted.
He did not say how much he expected the cyber-city project to cost.
Image: Mauritius’ foreign minister, right, with the newly elected President Akufo-Addo of Ghana (Government of Mauritius)