Q: What are the main FDI opportunities in the Seychelles?

A: For us, the Seychelles is paradise. Many people associate it with leisure but we also work very hard to invite investment. Currently, the main economic activities are tourism and fishing and, to some extent, the financial services sector. Our tourism population is 250,000 a year, so this is almost three times the population of the country. We are also welcoming the ‘blue economy’, which means using the sea as the basis for new activities. Beyond the traditional fisheries, we’re looking at other activities in the sea that we can derive income from, such as mining and aquaculture.

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We’re also inviting investments in education, health, IT and leisure activities on land and sea. FDI is extremely important because of the smallness of our population and land, and for development and contribution to the general economy.

Q: Is renewable energy on the agenda?

A: We are very environmentally friendly. Our target is by 2030 to have at least 20% of our energy being renewable, and by 2050 much higher than that. We are now installing a wind solar farm and many homes will have their own solar panels.

Q: What are the unique selling points for the Seychelles? What are its challenges?

A: We need an environment that can benefit us now and in the future, so sustainable, clean and durable development is what we are looking for. We cannot look at industrial development because we are small. The environment is very fragile – we cannot invest large amounts of money into big manufacturing facilities that we cannot sustain. We have a population of 90,000, so for anything big we will have to import labour. We have to strike a balance between imported labour and local labour.

Q: What is impeding you attracting more investment, and how are you overcoming this?

A: Our size is a challenge. We need investors who are ready to invest in meaningful projects that can benefit the population and the economy while also giving a good return on investment.

Q: For such a small country your brand is huge.

A: Yes, the recognition is there. We have built it on sustainable development. It’s a niche market – a paradise island. We have achieved this because of our efforts to maintain the environment, making our efforts sustainable. Now we must use the brand and [improve] it using investments that are financially meaningful.

Q: Can you give some examples?

A: The United Arab Emirates’ investment in wind farms. With our location in the Indian Ocean, we have the second biggest tuna-canning factory in the world. The tourism industry has attracted major hotel chains such as Hilton, Four Seasons and Savoy. Eco-tourism is also on the agenda. Increasingly hotels are conscious about their eco-brand – they are putting it into their projects.

Q: What are some other business attractions in the Seychelles?

A: We speak three languages – English, French and we have our own local Creole. In terms of education it’s not a problem. We are educated up to university level – not all of us, of course, but the quality of education is very good. [We have] free education and free healthcare.

Seychelles is four degrees south of the equator and in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It’s two-and-a-half hours to mainland Africa, that is Nairobi, four hours from Dubai, and five hours from South Africa. We are in the middle of the ocean with access to African markets, Middle Eastern markets and Asian markets.