Seychelles

Seychelles Investment Opportunities
About Seychelles 

Geography
Area: 455 sq km
Coastline: 491km
Capital: Victoria

The Republic of Seychelles lies in the western part of the Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar and 1,593km east of Mombasa, Kenya. It is an isolated archipelago of outstanding natural beauty comprising about 115 islands, the largest and most economically important of which is Mahé.

Area: 455 sq km; maritime zone more than 1.3 million sq km.

Main towns: Victoria (capital, pop. 21,900 in 2009) and Anse Royale, both on Mahé.

Topography: There is a compact group of 41 mountainous granite islands, including Mahé (the largest), Praslin and La Digue. All three have high central granite ridges, the highest point being Morne Seychellois (905m) on Mahé. The other islands are built of coral, and are cattered, low-lying and sparsely populated.

Climate: Tropical. The south-east trade winds blow from May to October. The north-west monsoon winds bring heavy squalls of rain. January is the wettest month, July and August the driest. Temperature remains constant throughout the year, at 24–31°C, and humidity at around 80%. The country is outside the cyclone belt.

Environment: The most significant environmental issue is dependence on rainwater for supply of water.

Vegetation: The granite islands support luxuriant tropical forest on the mountain slopes. The coral islands are also densely covered with vegetation more characteristic of sandy coral soils. Generally, the most common trees are the coconut palm and casuarina. Others include banyans, screw pines and tortoise trees and the giant coco de mer palm, which is unique to the Seychelles and lives for up to 1,000 years. Of about 200 plant species, 80 are indigenous, including the bois rouge, the giant bois de fer and the capucin. Forest covers some 89% of the land area.

KEY FACTS
Joined Commonwealth: 1976
Population: 84,000 (2009)
GDP p.c. growth: 1.7% p.a. 1990–2009
Official languages: Creole, English and French
Time: GMT plus 4hr

Currency: Seychelles rupee (SRs)

Transport:
Emanating from Victoria the capital city, a well maintained road network circles the main island of Mahé and cross the country’s sharply rising mountains in a number of places, allowing tourists and environmental enthusiasts to explore the island’s interior and making a drive from the top to the bottom of the island an enjoyable one hour cruise. From 2006 figures, the major islands were served by a network of 502 kilometers  of roads, of which 482 kilometers were paved. On shore, the principal manufacturing zone in Seychelles, the Providence Industrial Estate, is connected by the country’s only stretch of highway to the international airport, a five minute drive away. Main roads connect the estate to the capital, Victoria, which can be reached in ten minutes.

Air
Air links to major European capitals are provided by the national carrier Air Seychelles, while a number of other internationally respected airlines also operate services to the islands.

Sea
Thanks to the country’s industrial fishing industry, Port Victoria has developed to a level possibly unexpected for such a small country. The high level of shipping crossing from south Asia and the Gulf to the east coast of Africa has led to Seychelles being added to the itineraries of a number of major shipping lines

Utilities:
Despite a relatively high level of rainfall, the steep topography of Seychelles’ main islands has presented challenges for fresh water catchment. Dams dating back to colonial times provide an adequate supply throughout the majority of the year, with any shortfalls made up by the desalination units built during the late 1990s.  At present the vast majority of the country’s electricity needs are met by the oil powered generators at Roche Caiman, on the east coast of Mahé and operated by the state owned Public Utilities Corporation (PUC).  However, a number of pioneering privately owned islands, especially those focusing on environmental conservation, are successfully pioneering environmentally sustainable electricity generating methods, improving their green credentials and helping reduce the need for foreign currency-draining fuel imports.

Land:
One of the constraints to doing business in many small island environments is the unavailability of suitable land. The sheer granite mountains, rising sharply out of the Indian Ocean, which make up the main islands of Seychelles, previously provided a perfect example of this check to development.  Successive administrations, however, have tackled this problem by extending the area around Victoria on the east coast of Mahé out to sea. Land reclaimed from the sea is today the site of much of Victoria’s central business district and is the ground on which the country’s National Assembly sits. More recent reclamation projects have created space for the country’s power station, national stadium, housing projects, schools and industrial estates.  After waiting for the reclaimed land to settle, the most recently acquired batch of reclaimed islands are starting to be developed, providing Seychelles with a luxury housing resort, land on which to expand its port and fishing facilities, an area of low cost, state provided housing, a five star hotel and golf course, and a range of other projects generating revenue for the country or meeting its social needs. By reaching out to sea to create usable flat land, Seychelles’ governments have been able to protect the country’s mountainous interior from the environmental impacts of development and today over 45% of the Seychelles land mass is afforded some degree of environmental protection.  The outer islands also offer possibilities for investment and there are presently a number of success stories especially for tourism establishments operating on some of the other islands such as Desroches, North Island, Silhouette, Fregate…..

Communications:
Two giants of the telecommunications world provide Seychelles’ telephone communications network.  Cable and Wireless has been present in the country since colonial times and have recently been joined by Airtel, the local subsidiary of the Indian firm, Bharti Group, providing the country with reliable round the clock telephone communications.  Internet access is maintained by two local firms and is based around a 24 hour satellite connection; keeping you connected around the clock.

People:
A percentage literacy rate in the upper nineties and free health care has contributed to creating an educated and healthy workforce in Seychelles.  English, French and Seychelles’ Kreol are spoken almost universally, and not insignificant immigrant communities make a wide range of other languages available in the islands.

Economic sector of Investment

Seychelles is guided by a dynamic vision of economic growth and social well-being. In line with this strategy, the country has witnessed numerous investments in education, health, housing and other services and sectors over the years.  In spite of the many constraints related to its small size, Seychelles is doing its utmost to manage economic and social development with due regards to the environment, and may be considered as an exemplary country that has embarked on a sustainable development path. It is moving steadily and unstoppably forward, making the most of modern technology and its unique, vibrant, dynamic mix of people and cultures.

In late 2008, Seychelles embarked on a comprehensive reform program with the support of the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank respectively.  A little over one year into the reform program, the Seychelles has successfully liberalized the exchange regime with the rupee stabilized and on course to be counted among the best practices of prudent monetary policies. Significant fiscal adjustments, with substantial debt rescheduling and relief have also been part of the successes of the comprehensive reforms launched in partnership with the other stakeholders.  The conditions are right for Seychelles to now resume a path of growth and there is a need to reach out to investors and to consider new avenues as we start exploring new markets to continue our efforts to further diversify the economy in line with reducing the role of the State and encouraging private sector activity.

Tourism:
The birth of Seychelles tourism industry occurred in the early 1970’s with the opening of the country’s international airport, situated a convenient 15 minute drive from the capital Victoria and the main centres of population in northern Mahe.  However, far from more traditional tourist resorts and expensive to reach, Seychelles remained the playground of a relatively rich and privileged group of travellers before an expansion in the number of airlines serving the destination and changing holiday patterns pushed down the cost of flying here and allowed the industry to blossom.  Today the country is served by a host of respected international airlines, making it a non stop flight from Europe, the Gulf and Singapore and a one-stop flight from almost any of the world’s major cities.  The dynamic and expanding Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways were the most recent carriers to add a Seychelles service to their extensive international networks, enabling the country to tap into the Gulf and international business community focused in the region, as well as offering a two-stop sun and shopping holiday package.  The back bone to the country’s tourism industry, however, has been the national airline, Air Seychelles. Currently operating an international fleet of Boeing 767’s, the company has already placed orders for a replacement fleet of Boeing Dreamliners, setting new standards in passenger comfort and environmental sensitivity for the air travel industry.  Nationally owned, Air Seychelles has been responsive to the needs of Seychelles’ tourist trade and targeted its reliable, passenger-focused service to offering direct flights to western Europe, as well as other important tourist suppliers and hubs, such as South Africa, Singapore and Mauritius.
Competing against the giants of the international aviation industry Air Seychelles has emphasised its ability to offer the traveller a uniquely Seychelles experience, emphasising the friendly, personalised experience of its non-stop flights to London, Paris and Rome.  Supported by the tailored service of Air Seychelles and the advertising spend and carefully maintained reputations of the other airlines providing flights to the archipelago, the Seychelles tourism industry is currently experiencing an unprecedented period of growth.
In 2006 visitor numbers were 9% higher than in 2005, for the first time topping the 140,000 mark. And the projection for 2007 is higher still.
But while neighbouring destinations welcome vast numbers of tourists each year, Seychelles has set its sights on a low-density, high-yield approach to tourism.
Intending to attract no more than 300,000 tourists per annum Seychelles’ tourist trade has geared itself to providing a unique holiday experience, one which justifies spending that little bit extra for a once in a lifetime experience.

The recent rebranding of Seychelles’ tourism marketing strategy – a consultative process conducted by combining the talents of government, the local tourism industry and Seychelles’ international tourism partners – emphasises the myriad different holiday experiences available to visitors to the country.
The 115 different islands of Seychelles offer investment opportunities in eco-tourism, cultural tourism, snorkelling, scuba diving, hiking, unparalleled luxury, specialised restaurants, yachting, cruises, marinas and a host of other activities.

Recognising that Seychellois are able to offer visitors to the country a unique Creole holiday experience, but often lack the capital to invest in a large scale development, the tourism authorities have ring-fenced small scale tourism projects for local businesses and are instead encouraging international investors to use their experience, capital and brand recognition to undertake the four and five star developments outside the capabilities of local entrepreneurs.
This policy has lead to the development of the Small Establishments Enhancement Programme (SEEP) which groups locally owned small establishments, enabling the Seychelles Tourism Board to use its marketing muscle for the benefit of local owners at the same time as allowing the likes of Hilton, Shangri-la, Four Seasons, Southern Sun, La Constance and Beachcomber to establish themselves at the upper end of the tourist market.
A further 30 major tourism developments are expected to be undertaken over the coming years, including hotels backed by Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways. But with 115 different islands in the archipelago there’s still room for all of our visitors to enjoy a relaxed, exclusive vacation.

Fisheries:

Since the arrival of Seychelles’ first inhabitants the country has relied on the surrounding rich fishing grounds to support it. In more recent years fishing in Seychelles’ waters has developed from an industry intended purely to sustain the local population to one able to compete internationally as a vital foreign currency earner for Seychelles.

Home to industrial fishing fleets from the European Union and Far East, Seychelles lies in centre of the western Indian Ocean tuna stock’s migratory routes, making it the region’s most efficient hub from which to fish, especially in the light of recent international fuel price rises, which have pushed up the cost of sailing to and from fishing grounds.

Today a thriving, Seychellois dominated artisanal and semi-industrial sector supplies the local market and sends high-value addition fisheries products overseas.
Industrial fisheries are led by European purse-seiner tuna fishing boats and Japanese and Taiwanese long-line fishing boats, which maintain a steady supply to the world’s second largest tuna cannery, Indian Ocean Tuna (IOT) based in Victoria, and the fleet of tuna transhipment vessels moored off-shore.

While canned tuna is IOT’s principle export, the factory and fisheries sector in general, is beginning to move into fields such as tuna loins and other higher-value fisheries products, benefiting from the high quality of the fish caught and long-standing fisheries expertise available in Seychelles
And while industrial tuna fishing in the North Atlantic has been accused of robbing local people of food and livelihoods and tuna fishing practices in the Mediterranean have been deemed unsustainable, fishing in Seychelles’ waters generates local employment and is viewed as sustainable.

The use of the outer island, Coetivy, as a profitable artificial prawn farm venture has clearly demonstrated that Seychelles can successfully host aquaculture projects and the experience and knowledge gained through the establishment of the Coetivy farm could quickly be put to use in establishing a similar venture elsewhere in the country.

Offshore Industries:

Seychelles first recognised the potential revenue generating capabilities of off-shore financial services in the early 1990’s but the industry only began to take off in the early years of the following decade. Today the industry is rapidly becoming a third pillar (alongside tourism and fisheries) to the country’s economy.
Part of the reason for its success has been the stringency of the industry regulating International Corporate Services Act, which ensures that all service providers in Seychelles adhere to strict professional standards and are subject to a high level of due diligence prior to the issuance and renewal of a licence.
But while the Act may have slowed the growth of the sector it also ensured the reputation of Seychelles’ off-shore industry, a key ingredient in guaranteeing its long-term viability and differentiating it from other, less scrupulous jurisdictions.
Assisted by the Seychelles International Business Authority (SIBA), companies operating in Seychelles’ off-shore sector today enjoy a range of fiscal advantages not generally available elsewhere.
Together with its local and international partners, SIBA is expending considerable resources in the continuous development of local professionals in order to maintain high levels of service delivery and continue to attract legitimate international business activity.

International business company (IBC):

Keen to establish itself as one of the world’s leading off-shore registries, Seychelles offers wide ranging benefits to investors choosing to register as International Business Companies (IBC’s) in the jurisdiction:

  • Speed of registrary
  • Competitive license fees fixed for life
  • No requirement to disclose the beneficial owners of an IBC
  • Directors may be elected at the first company board meeting
  • No minimum capital stipulation
  • Confidentiality guaranteed by law
  • Bearer shares allowed
  • Only one director or shareholder is required
  • No requirement to file accounts with the Registrar
  • All civil proceedings in respect of IBC’s may be heard by a judge in chambers
  • An IBC may own/manage a vessel/aircraft registered in Seychelles
  • Register of directors need not be filed with the Registrar

Company Special Licenses (CSL):

Established in Seychelles of-shore sector, businesses operating under a CSL are eligible to pay a business tax rate of only 1.5%. CSL established in Seychelles are free to undertake operations in any other country.

Offshore banking:

Maintaining an offshore bank account permits investors to access funds internationally; carry out transfers and other transactions and build up a banking history which can move with the investor should they choose to relocate.
Non-domestic banking in Seychelles is regulated by the Central Bank of Seychelles and is administered under the Financial Institutions Act 2004 to cater for offshore as well as domestic banking. The Act makes provision for the licensing of offshore banks and incorporates the necessary flexibility to encourage growth in that sector. It also features full confidentiality with regards to information of its clients, with the obvious exception of criminal investigation cases.

Financial Services:

Regulated by the independent Central Bank of Seychelles, the work of commercial and offshore banks is today a significant contributor to Seychelles GDP.
Transparency of transactions and enhanced economic liberalisation of the national economy has been achieved through the establishment of the Non-Bank Financial Services Authority (NBFSA), charged with regulating insurance, mutual funds and stock exchange activities under the Mutual Funds Act and the Securities Act.

Energy:

The vast majority of Seychelles’ electricity demand is met by the state-owned oil-fuelled power station at Roche Caiman on Mahй’s east coast. Experienced managerial and technical staff, combined with regular spending on equipment updates, ensures a constant supply of power.
The fuel which powers the country’s generators is imported from the Gulf and skilful long term planning by the state oil company SEPEC (Seychelles Petroleum Corporation) led to the development of large bunkerage capacity in the country, allowing Seychelles to become the major distribution hub for the east African seaboard.

Seychelles vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which encompasses 1.3 million kmІ of the western Indian Ocean is being increasingly viewed as a potential source for as yet unexploited oil reserves. Initial exploration in some areas has already begun, but the potential for further exploration in so far unexamined areas remains.

On a number of the country’s outer islands resort owners and environmentalists are pioneering sustainable energy sources, most notably the use of solar energy.
Domestic energy consumers are also starting to adjust to the benefits of solar energy, with numerous household installing solar water heating equipment.
Seychelles’ year round sunshine makes it an ideal location for the development of solar energy projects and the many islands offer wide scope for tidal, wind and other renewable energy projects to be carried out.

Light Industry:

Limited natural resources and labour supply has curtailed the development of a significant manufacturing base in Seychelles, but certain segments have exploited reliable niche markets both in Seychelles and internationally.
Companies such as Chelle Medical, which exports medical equipment from its factory in Seychelles to western Europe, have benefited from Seychelles’ educated work force and pro-business government policies.
Today Seychelles offers wide ranging opportunities for innovative light industrial projects at the Providence Industrial estate, the focal point for the nation’s manufacturing sector. Located mid way between the country’s international airport and capital, Victoria, the industrial zone has been set aside for light industrial use, with all of the necessary support infrastructure on hand.
And while the investment authorities are ready to giver consideration to any suggested industrial development, a number of fields present themselves as particularly suited to Seychelles, notably in recycling and product design and packaging.

Agriculture:

The steep, wooded mountains of Seychelles’ inner islands provide only limited scope of large scale agricultural practices, but local farmers have learnt how to make the best of the country’s long hours of sunshine and plentiful rainfall to grow a wide variety of both tropical and more traditional fruits and vegetables.
High value, luxury food stuffs, such as premium quality tropical fruits and spices, grown to the highest environmental standards and marketed with the cache of Seychelles’ exclusivity are already fetching high prices in European supermarkets.
In order to meet their clients’ demands for a ready supply of high quality, fresh fruit and vegetables, a number of privately owned island resorts have invested heavily into agricultural projects on the islands, with some of the best results achieved using low-input, high yielding hydroponics techniques.