Maio island Cape Verde creates a Special Economic Zone for tourism

The island of Maio will count, as of today, with a Special Economic Zone to promote tourism, with tax benefits and other incentives for promoters who settle there.


At issue is Law 11/X/2022, which officially creates the Special Economic Zone of Ilha do Maio (ZEEIM), at the initiative of the Government, approved on 28 April by parliament and which came into force today, after promulgation by the President of the Republic, allowing a private developer to move forward with the largest tourist development in the country, worth 500 million euros.

When discussing the creation of the ZEEIM in parliament, and although without mentioning it directly in the draft law, Olavo Correia stated that this model will benefit the “Little Africa Maio” project, the largest tourist development in Cape Verde, valued at 500 million euros. euros to generate 4,000 jobs, the first phase of which is expected to be built in the next three years, on that island, by the International Holding Cabo Verde (IHCV) group.

“The promoter is waiting for the creation of the Special Economic Zone on the island of Maio to start with his project, according to information from him. Our obligation as a Government is to create the conditions, to create the legal framework, to create the incentives, to create a framework of trust so that private individuals can invest. Now, those who can provide information about private projects are the private ones”, said the deputy prime minister and finance minister, Olavo Correia, in parliament, during the discussion of this proposal.

The law that creates the ZEEIM provides that entities that “invest, establish themselves or carry out activities” there may benefit “from policies and a special regime, namely with regard to the tax and customs regimes, of the Integrated Free Zone, of ‘ tax-free’ and duty-free shops”.

“This special incentive regime aims to provide the island of Maio and the country with alternative sources of revenue by attracting investments, also providing for a pioneering regime for the 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”, it reads.

“With the approval of this law, we will be taking the first big step so that the ‘”Little Africa Maio’ project and other private projects can be built, for the good of the island of Maio, for the good of Cape Verde”, said Olavo Correia .

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, aiming at “taking advantage of the potential” of the island “in the field of tourism and leisure activities, as well 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 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 law that the Government took to parliament and that came into force today.

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.

It provides that the rate of Corporate Income Tax to companies and branches registered there, at the International Center of Industry or at the International Trade Center of the 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 provided that companies, branches installed 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”.

In the draft agreement for the establishment of “Little Africa Maio”, signed on December 15, 2020 between the Government and Spanish businessman Enrique Banuelos de Castro, managing partner of IHCV, a consortium that includes several other African investors, the implementation of of a Tourist-Residential, Cultural and Business Center on that island, with 8,000 inhabitants and 274.5 square kilometers.

The Cape Verdean Government declared the project of “exceptional interest” and of “enormous national interest”, stating that it will provide the island with “first-rate infrastructure, built in accordance with environmental and sustainability parameters defined in the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations”.

In addition to the entertainment area, considered the “anchor of the project”, the complex will have museums and exhibition halls from African countries, a theater, casino, shops, a congress/exhibition and business center, a hospital, an international college and rooms for executives, cadres 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.

Ilha do Maio passa a ter Zona Económica Especial para o turismo – Expresso das Ilhas / LUSA