Cabo Verdean island of Maio Special Economic Zone to promote tourism

The Cape Verdean island of Maio will have a Special Economic Zone to promote tourist ventures and the development of an international business platform, providing tax exemptions and free or tax-free zones to attract investors.

The draft law that creates the Special Economic Zone of Ilha do Maio (ZEEIM), approved by the Council of Ministers in January this year, will be discussed and voted on by the National Assembly at the ordinary parliamentary session from March 23 to 25, according to the document. , to which Lusa had access today, provides that entities that “invest, establish themselves or develop activities” there may benefit “from policies and a special regime, namely with regard to tax and customs regimes, of the Integrated Free Zone , ‘tax-free’ and duty-free shops”.

“Such a special incentive regime, aims to provide the island of Maio and the country with alternative sources of revenue through the attraction of investments, also providing for a pioneering regime of taxation of individuals, which is justified and is only granted given the size of the project, the planned investment and, above all, the development of key infrastructure to leverage the development of the island”, reads the bill.

Although without mentioning it directly, the draft law will benefit the “Little Africa Maio” project, the largest tourist development in Cape Verde, valued at 500 million euros to generate 4,000 jobs, whose first phase is expected to be built in the next three years. years, on that island, by the International Holding Cabo Verde (IHCV) group.

The future ZEEIM will integrate the Integrated Tourism Development Zones of the South of Vila do Maio, Ribeira Dom João and Pau Seco of Ilha do Maio, with a view to “taking advantage of the potential” of the island “in the field of tourism and leisure activities, as well as as the development of an international business platform benefiting from the centrality that results from the connection to Africa, the South and North Atlantic and Europe.

“In this way, it is intended to compete for the transformation into a Tourist-Residential, Cultural and Business Hub-Hub for Africa, with direct consequences in the creation of direct employment and in the construction, maintenance and management of the structures that will be developed”, says the draft law that the Government takes to parliament.

ZEEIM will be “the investor’s only interlocutor”, bringing together the various services, departments of the State and the municipality of Maio, to “provide the investor, in a single point, with all the procedures related to investment and installation”, including the registration, administrative, customs, fiscal, commercial, industrial, environmental and social formalities, relating to tourist use, work permits, and visa and residency applications.

The document provides that the rate of Corporate Income Tax for companies and branches registered there, at the International Center of Industry or at the International Trade Center of ZEEIM, varies between 5% (10 employees) and 2.5% ( more than 50 workers), while non-residents who participate in the share capital of entities licensed in operation “enjoy exemption from income tax”.

Among other tax benefits, such as exemption from paying property tax on the acquisition and maintenance of properties, it is also foreseen that companies, branches located there, as well as residents, “benefit from exemption from consumption taxes on the acquisition of goods for use and consumption within the integrated ‘tax-free’ free zone and free shops established, under the terms of the law, in the ZEEIM, whether these are value-added taxes or excise duties”.

The draft agreement for the establishment of “Little Africa Maio” was signed on December 15, 2020, in the city of Praia, between the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Olavo Correia, and the Spanish businessman Enrique Banuelos de Castro, managing partner of IHCV, a consortium that includes several other African investors.

The Tourist-Residential, Cultural and Business Center will be implemented in the Integrated Tourist Development Zone of the island of Maio – with around 8,000 inhabitants and 274.5 square kilometres, with the objective of promoting and accelerating the development of the Cabo-Verdiana.

In the establishment draft for this investment, the Cape Verdean Government declared the project to be of “exceptional interest” and of “enormous national interest”, noting that it will provide the island with “first-rate infrastructure, built in accordance with environmental parameters and sustainability defined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”.

The complex, to be built in three phases, will be managed and operated by a new company called “Little Africa Services” (LAS).

In addition to the entertainment area, considered the “anchor of the project”, the complex will also have museums and exhibition halls from African countries, theatre, casino, shops, congress/exhibition and business centre, international business centre, hospital, international college and housing for executives, executives and other workers.

With the first phase expected to be operational within three years, the tourist infrastructure will also include a tourist complex, called “Little Africa Resorts”, in a residential area, which will include villas for international citizens with high purchasing power.

The tourist centre is promoted by a group of hoteliers, represented by the Spaniard Enrique Banuelos de Castro, who is managing partner of IHCV.

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