Mauritius is situated in the South West Indian Ocean, slightly over the tropic of Capricorn, in latitude 20° south and longitude 57° east of Greenwich. It is 2,000 km off the east coast of Africa and some 855 km east of Madagascar. An island of volcanic origin with an area of 1,864 km2, it is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs. There are nine administrative districts and three dependencies*; Agalega Islands*, Black River, Cargados Carajos Shoals*, Flacq, Grand Port, Moka, Pamplemousses, Plaines Wilhems, Port Louis, Riviere du Rempart, Rodrigues* and Savanne.
The population is estimated at 1.3 million inhabitants in 2016 with a literacy rate of 89.8% (Statistics Mauritius 2017). In 2017, seventy percent of the total population was between 15 and 64 years of age. Port Louis, the capital, has a population of 135,000 (Statistics Mauritius 2017). The languages are Creole, Bhojpuri, French and English.
Mauritius has established itself as one of the leading economic reformers in Africa. Strong institutions in a politically stable and thriving business environment and effective use of trade preferences particularly with Europe and India have been instrumental in driving growth and facilitating an impressive economic diversification.
Mauritius has diversified its economy from sugarcane into tourism, textiles, financial services, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The ICT sector has recently been propelled into a major pillar of the Mauritian economy as the Government considered ICT to be a key enabler for economic and sustainable development. In 2018 the ICT sector contributed 5.6% of GDP and employing around for c. 23,000 people (Board of Investment, 2018). Over the past 4 years, Mauritius has moved up the GCI ranking of the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report from 54 to 45 (Global Competitiveness Report 2017). In terms of Network Readiness Index and ICT Development Index Mauritius is ranked 49th with a score of 4.4 and 72nd with a score of 5.55 respectively for 2017. Mauritius is among the most competitive and successful economies in Africa. It was ranked at 49th position among 190 countries in the World Bank's 2017 Doing Business Survey. The country is also ranked among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of Cybersecurity. According to ITU's Cybersecurity index Mauritius is ranked 6th globally in 2018.
In relation to Communications, according to the Information and Communication Technologies Authority, there were 413,100 fixed phone line subscriptions (32.6% penetration rate), 1.8 million mobile phone subscriptions (145% penetration) and more than 1.2 million internet subscriptions (98.6% penetration) in 2017.
The telecommunications sector was liberalised at the end of 2001 and has evolved from a classical analogue network to a fully digital one. Mauritius is linked to the South Africa Far East (SAFE) submarine cable (2002), the Lower Indian Ocean Network (LION) submarine fibre cable (2009), and LION2 submarine cable (2011). IOX CABLE Ltd, a subsidiary of INDOI LTD, signed a MOU with Mauritius Telecom to build an undersea cable system - Indian Ocean XChange Cable System. This US$150 million cable project will allow Mauritius to have a third independent undersea cable connectivity to Africa and the rest of the world and in turn reinforce Mauritius, as an emerging innovation giant in Sub-Saharan Africa. The IOX cable system will be the first open access cable system in the region and offer the opportunity for any licensed operators to benefit from the latest technology and seamless access, throughout the life cycle of the cable system. The IOX undersea cable system design will also allow it to connect to existing and future undersea cable projects off the East coast of Africa. The IOX Cable is expected to be ready for commercial service by the first quarter of 2019.
An Independent Regulatory Authority (ICTA) was established in 2002. There are currently 2 Fixed Line Operators, 3 Mobile Operators and 13 ISPs. The National Internet Exchange Point (NIXP) is hosted at the Government Online Centre. A national Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Ecosystem is in place.
In terms of Fibre connectivity to the home (FTTH) at this stage the whole island is connected to the Fibre optics cable, which offers internet connection of a minimum speed of 10 Mbps and a maximum speed of 100 Mbps. In 2017, the broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants stood at 78.4 percent. The international Internet bandwidth per Internet user was at 62,650 bits.
Within the public sector, there are seven tertiary education institutions: the University of Mauritius (UoM), University of Technology, Mauritius (UTM), the Mahatma Gandhi Institute (MGI), the Rabindranath Tagore Institute (RTI), the Open University of Mauritius (OU), previously known as the Mauritius College of the Air, the Fashion and Design Institute (FDI) as well as the newly-created Université des Mascareignes (a merger of the former 2 polytechnics, namely the Swami Dayanand Institute of Management and the Institut Supérieur de Technologie). Three public institutions also run programmes at the tertiary level: the Mauritius Institute of Training and Development (MITD), the Mauritius Institute of Health (MIH) and the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE). In addition to the seven institutions, 55 private institutions are registered locally, providing tertiary education in diverse fields, ranging from Certificate to PhD, with the awarding bodies mostly based overseas (52 out of 58).
Mauritius has emerged as an international and competitive ICT destination and is steadily positioning itself as a regional ICT Hub. The Government Programme 2010 - 2015 was to create an "i-Mauritius", Intelligent Mauritius, making Mauritius one of the most connected nations in the world and to reduce the digital divide by providing access to broadband. The Government has developed and implemented two National ICT Strategic Plans 2007 - 2011 and 2011 - 2014, which have developed the ICT sector. The Strategic ICT plan builds on five strategies categorised under five pillars:
(i) Setting up Smart Cities and Techno parks across the Island
(ii) Development of an ultra-high speed, safe and trusted telecommunications infrastructure.
(iii) Building a Globally competitive workforce for Technology and Communication
(iv) Development of a National Innovation Programme
(v) Making Mauritius a Regional Hub and a gateway to Africa.
To foster innovation and develop a vibrant ICT Sector, the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation (MTCI) has been set up in 2015 to replace the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication (MICT). The main objectives of the MTCI are to
- Formulate appropriate policies and provide the necessary legal framework for the development of ICT and its optimal use across all sectors.
- Facilitate, through the implementation of an E-Government programme, the provision of Government services electronically anytime anywhere for the greater convenience of the public.
- Promote and facilitate the development of the ICT sector.
- Ensure that the ICT culture permeates all levels of the society to bridge the digital divide to the extent possible.
- Promote the development of ICT enabled services including e-business.
- Encourage the adoption of new technologies and best practices in the ICT.
- Promote capacity building in ICT
Institutions reporting to MTCI include: the National Computer Board (NCB), the Mauritius Research Council (MRC), the ICT Authority (ICTA) and the -Data Protection Office (DPO). The core mission of the NCB is to accelerate the transition of Mauritius into a regional ICT hub and ensure the swift realisation of government's objective to make of the ICT sector a key pillar of the economy. MRC acts as a central body to advise Government on Science and Technology issues and to influence the direction of technological innovation by funding research projects in areas of national priority and encouraging strategic partnerships. The DPO aims to protect privacy rights of individuals. The ICT-BPO industry in Mauritius has experienced sustained growth from less than 100 companies in 2005 to 750 in 2016.
Major international ICT players, including Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, HP, CISCO, Orange Business Services, Accenture, Infosys, Hinduja Group, France Telecom, Ceridian, the TNT Group, have set up their operation and development centres in Mauritius.
There are two main ICT industry associations in Mauritius: the Mauritius IT Industry Association (MITIA) and the Outsourcing and Telecommunications Association of Mauritius (OTAM). MITIA is an association of major ICT companies, whereas OTAM represents the interests of the Telecom operators and the BPO players in Mauritius.
The Government of Mauritius is fully conscious of the key role that the legal framework has to play in ensuring a healthy and sustainable development in the ICT industry. In this context, appropriate legislations on data security, protection of intellectual property rights and cyber crimes (Electronic Transaction Act, Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act, Data Protection Act etc) have been enacted to encourage the effective growth of the ICT sector.
A National Broadband Policy 2012 - 2020 (NBP2012) was launched in January 2012, which sets out a strategic vision for a broadband Intelligent Mauritius, and establishes national goals regarding broadband while elaborating specific policies to achieve those goals within the overarching National ICT Strategic Plan (NICTSP) 2011-2014 context.
In May 2017, the government launched the National Open Data Policy. The purpose of this policy document is to formulate the appropriate guidelines and processes for Ministries and Departments in the release and management of Government datasets as open data. The Open Data Portal is operational with more than 100 datasets of various sectors (data.govmu.org). The portal allows Government agencies to publish non-sensitive datasets for use by the public and businesses to create data-driven applications or research. The portal will empower citizens and businesses to carry out data-driven initiatives such as development of mobile apps, data analysis, creation of innovative products and research.
Recognising the positive impact of e-Government on the development of the Republic of Mauritius, the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation (MTCI) together with the Central Informatics Bureau embarked in the preparation of the Digital Government Transformation Strategy 2018-2022 (DGTS). Through harnessing opportunities for digital transformation in the public sector, the DGTS is aligned with, and goes hand-in-hand with the Public Sector Business Transformation Strategy (PSBTS) for achieving Government's Vision 2030. The DGTS provides Government with digital policies to attain all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It sets the course for accelerated public sector digitisation efforts to enhance operational effectiveness and efficiency, and better service to citizen, business and government constituents. It makes recommendations that culminate into better policies and services that are simple, smart and seamless. The DGTS advocates innovative concepts including Digital-by-Default Services, Once-Only Principle, E-Participation, Agile Principles etc. An action plan will also be drafted to accompany government agencies in the implementation of recommendations found in the DGTS.
Other relevant strategies include
- eGovernment Strategy (2013 - 2017) which outlines measures for Government2Business, Government2Citizen and Governement2Government
- National Green IT Policy and Strategy (2014 - 2017)
- National Open Source Policy, Stategy and Action Plan (2014 - 2019)
- National Cyber Security Strategy (2014 - 2019)
- National eWaste Policy, Strategy and Action (2015)