Current ICT Initiatives and projects - Mauritius

ICT Initatives are currently ongoing at national level in the areas of Education (Universal ICT Education Programme, Education through ICT, ICT Skills Development Programme), Digital Divide (Community Empowerment Programme, Public Internet Access Points, Cyber Caravan Project, Community Web Portal), eGovernment (Governement Online Services and eServices, Mauritius National Identify Card, Public Key Infrastructure, eJudiciary Programme, Crime Occurrence Tracking System, ePayment Project, eHealth, ePrison, National ICT Strategic Plan, eGoverment Stategy Report), Cyber Security (National Computer Emergency Response Team, Critical Inofrmation Infrastructure Framework, National Cyber Security Strategy), Entrepreneurship (NCB ICT Incubator Centre) and Green IT (National Green IT Policy, eWaste Policy).

Universal ICT Education Programme

The National Computer Board operating under the aegis of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has been implementing the Prime Minister's Universal ICT Education Programme (UIEP) since September 2006. One of the priorities of the programme is the introduction of the internationally acknowledged Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC3) course with a view of making it the benchmark for digital literacy/proficiency in Mauritius.

The programme aims at training a maximum number of persons comprising students, employees, non-employee and the population at large on the IC3 course in line with Government's vision of accelerating the transformation of Mauritius into an ICT hub and in developing ICT into a major pillar of the economy.

The IC3 course is of 45 hrs duration and trainings are done in state secondary colleges after school hours. To date some 177,000 people have already been trained on IC3.

Universal ICT Education Programme - Phase II

The National Computer Board has launched the UIEP Phase II whereby more than 3,000 online professional IT and non-IT courses are being made available at very interesting prices to all those who complete the IC3 or already have a recognised certificate in IT in January 2010. The courses modules are bundled into 15 separate packages and includes course materials leading to popular certifications such as MCSE, MCSA, MCAD, CISCO, CompTia, Oracle, A+, N+, Server+, Linux, Project Management etc.

Community Empowerment Programme

The objective of the Community Empowerment Programme (CEP) is to facilitate the process for the community to make use of ICT to fully participate in the socio-economic development of Mauritius. The CEP is in line with the Government programme to encourage the development of local content and creativity. The CEP will contribute for the development of Mauritius in the following ways:

- Bring together the country's development stakeholders to build a strong online network of local, regional and global development communities on the web. Address the needs of various communities in Mauritius including NGOs, academic and private sectors and professionals.

- Democratise access to ICT.

- Provide comprehensive, high quality information about the country, its economic and social structure.

- Help to reduce the "Digital Divide" by providing concerned online information.

- Stimulate the development and production of local content on the Internet.

To date, 250 computer clubs with free Internet access have been set up in 23 youth centres, 17 women centres, 57 social welfare centres, 114 community centres, 20 day-care centres and 19 NGOs/Municipal Councils/Village Halls across the island. Around 927,500 people (including recurrent users) have been able to make use of the facilities. 24 Computer Clubs are remaining to be set up in 14 Community Centres and 7 NGOs / Village Hall. A Community Web Portal will host contents of over 100 villages and localities online.

The Community Empowerment Programme has been extended to Rodrigues Island in collaboration with the National Empowerment Foundation (NEF) with the setting up of Learning Corners. The Learning Corners add to the development of Rodrigues by facilitating the democratisation of ICTs in order to contribute in the empowerment of the community through the use of ICTs and free access to broadband Internet.

Each Learning Corner is equipped with three computers and free Internet access and are open to the public. 11 Learning Corners have been set up in Rodrigues.

An additional 10 Learning Corners will be set up in Rodrigues with the collaboration of NEF and Mauritius Telecom Foundation.

Public Internet Access Points

One hundred Public Internet Access Points (PIAPs) have been set up in Post Offices (95 in Mauritius and 5 in Rodrigues) and around 186,000 people have been able to make use of the facilities. This service is provided free to disabled, orphans, senior citizens, unemployed and a nominal fee for other users.

Cyber Caravan Project

Launched in November 2000, the Cyber Caravan Project aims at making IT facilities available to the community. The NCB presently operates three Cyber Caravans, which are equipped with 9, 10 and 21 PCs respectively and broadband Internet connection. Training on ICT Awareness and IC3 on a regional basis is provided on board the Cyber Caravan. To date, about 166,000 people have been initiated in basic IT Skills (2 hrs course) and IC3 (45 hrs course).

Government Online Services (GOC) and e-Services

The Government Online Centre (GOC), operational since May 2005, is a centralised data centre that supports e-Government initiatives. The GOC hosts the Government Web Portal (GWP), which provides secured online Government services round-the-clock. Being a common platform for Ministries and Departments, the GOC enables the optimisation of IT investment for the public sector. Over 200 websites are being hosted for Ministries and Departments and 75 for Parastatal Bodies.

The Government Web Portal (GWP) is a one-stop-shop providing comprehensive information and enabling online applications on a 24 x 7 x 365 basis in a user-friendly manner. The GWP consists of a homepage and four sub-portals, namely, Citizen, Government, Non-Citizen and Business.

The GWP has a dedicated eServices section for online applications. This eServices section enables the submission of online applications, the receipt of online acknowledgements and the online tracking of the status of applications, amongst others. To date, 65 eServices are available online on the Government Web Portal. There has been an exponential growth of use of eServices especially the eFiling of income tax. Citizens can also transact with the Government through payment of online services, for instance, payment for a driving test or payment for police duties request. In addition, the government portal is now mobile friendly with the Smart App (over Apple and Android) and the Smart Browser View.

GOC also provides Internet access to over 180 secondary schools and 265 primary schools and Internet & E-mail facilities to over 8,000 employees of Ministries and Departments.

With the setting up of a National Internet Exchange Point (NIXP) on the GOC platform, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Mauritius can peer through to GOC so that local bandwidth is contained in Mauritius thereby saving on international bandwidth.

National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-MU)

The Computer Emergency Response Team of Mauritius (CERT-MU), a division of the National Computer Board, is promoting cyber security issues at the national level. CERT-MU serves as a focal point in Mauritius for computer security incident reporting and Response.

Services offered by CERT-MU include:

- Information Security Incident Handling and Management

- Vulnerability scanning and Penetration Testing of networks, applications, and devices

- Disseminating information security news and latest information security alerts to constituency members

- Advise parents on the issues of Child Online Safety including Social Networking sites

- Security Awareness Programmes on Information Security

- Third Party Auditing and providing assistance in implementing ISO 27001.

CERT-MU is also a member of the following bodies:

- Forum for Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST), a premier organisation and recognised global leader in incident response.

- Anti- Phishing Working Group (APWG)

- International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT)

NCB ICT Incubator Centre

The NCB ICT Incubator Centre was set up to encourage young entrepreneurs to create start-ups in the ICT sector by providing them with logistic and business support. The NCB-ICT Incubator centre has benefited from financial assistance from the infoDev Capacity Building Grant - Support for new and start-up incubators in developing country in 2004.

The National Computer Board has revamped its ICT Incubator Centre to a Technopreneurship programme to encourage innovation and creativity to develop a community of Entrepreneurs in the ICT Sector. The NCB Provides Guidance, Business Advice, Support and Training to Start Ups under its Technopreneurship Programme.

To promote software development, the NCB is offering Microsoft BizSpark. BizSpark is a global program that helps software start-ups succeed by giving them access to current full-featured Microsoft development tools and technologies to build their applications, professional technical and community support and global visibility to an audience of potential investors, clients and partners.

To attract the innovative minds of Mauritius new generation by challenging their creativity and capacity in Business, Science and Technology, the National Computer Board is organising the ICT Business Idea Competition 2014, the first ever competition of its kind to be organised in Mauritius.

Mauritius National Identity Card (MNIC)

A new system for national ID is the key foundation stone to the continued progress of Mauritius in the direction of digitalising and streamlining e-government services. In this context, the Government has developed a new ID card which offers citizens a new, high-security ID card, as well as a new population database, advanced security systems for ensuring and protecting citizen data and privacy. The new card incorporates state-of-the-art fingerprint biometric technology, and will eventually serve as an ID document that requires less paperwork to prove identity. With the new card and system, citizens will be able to enjoy more secure and reliable citizen-to-government transactions, as well as overall increased efficiency and shorter processing time in using government services..

Education through ICT

Several initiatives are under way to promote education through the use of ICT in the education sector. The government has embarked on an e-education plan, envisaging e-education projects such as the e-education portal and school administration systems. Likewise, the Government is implementing the Sankoré project, whose objective is to facilitate the provision of education to children through innovative technological means. It involves equipping all schools with low-cost digital interactive equipment (projectors and laptops) as well as providing educational software, thereby furnishing an infinite variety of pedagogical tools for both teachers and students. This will make the teaching/learning process more creative and lively and have a positive impact on the performance of pupils, thus contributing massively to improvement of their education.

The Government wishes to transform the manner in which educators teach students and how students learn from their peers through the introduction of ICT multimedia tools in the classroom. The Tablet PC project which will provide free tablet PCs is planned to be rolled out in Form IV and will subsequently be deployed in Forms V and VI in the coming years. This will revolutionize the way education is being imparted.

In order to create a virtual community of online learners across the country, high speed secure internet links and wireless connectivity in schools will also be provided in 2014.

Public Key Infrastructure

To support the development of ecommerce, a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Ecosystem has been established in Mauritius. The National Computer Board (NCB) is partnering with eMudhra as its Local Agent in Mauritius to carry out the business of Digital Certificates Processing for individuals and organisations in Mauritius.

The Mauritius Post Limited (MPL) is acting as a Registration Authority (RA) for the issuance of Digital Signature Certificates.

ICT Skills Development Programme (ISDP)

The ICT Skills Development Programme was launched in October 2012 to address the mismatch of ICT Skills and to cater for the increasing demand of manpower in the ICT/BPO industry. It is estimated that the ICT Sector would require an additional workforce of 15,000 persons in the next few years.

The ICT Skills Development Programme comprises two incentive schemes for ICT/BPO companies. The Training and Work Placement Scheme encourages ICT-BPO companies to train unemployed youths having an SC, HSC, Diploma and/or Degree on an industry led Mauritius Qualification Authority (MQA) approved course and to offer them a placement alongside. The scheme entitles ICT/BPO companies to claim the refund of up to 50% of the stipend and 50% of the training cost, where applicable.

The second scheme, the Work-Based Learning for University Students scheme, allows Employers to identify talents before graduation among Tertiary Level Students through a 'Work Based Learning' concept. ICT/BPO companies are encouraged to recruit trainees from the ISD Programme database and offer them a work-based training/placement. Trainees should undergo the training/ placement for at least 2 times for a period of 6 weeks each during a year of study. Participants receive an all-inclusive stipend during the placement. The scheme refunds 50% of the stipend paid to the ICT/BPO Company.

As at January 2014, c. 140 companies and 3,000 job-seekers have registered with the ISDP and around 600 participants have secured training and work placement.

Community Web Portal

The Community Web Portal (CWP) is being developed with a view to encourage the development of local content and creativity. The CWP is a platform to facilitate the process for the community to make use of ICT to participate in the socio-economic development of the country. Its objectives are to:

- Encourage the development of local content and creativity

- Democratise access to information

- Promoting community development by enabling collaboration and knowledge sharing and facilitating communication.

The CWP provides local content for democratised information sharing with a web page for each location. The CWP covers the locations of Mauritius to provide information about the country; its geographic, historical, economic, social structure, relevant activities, businesses, etc.

So far, content for above 100 villages and localities of Mauritius has been gathered. Contents for the remaining locations of Mauritius are being gathered progressively.

E-Government Projects

Some of the main e-government projects that are currently being implemented are as follows:-

(a) The e-Judiciary programme has been initiated by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to upgrade the country's existing court management system, which dates back to 1994. A new Electronic Filing System (EFS) will allow:

- Computerization of the daily activities of the judiciary, such as case registration, court scheduling and document servicing;

- Electronic submission and exchange of documents by attorneys with the judiciary - attorneys will thus be able to lodge cases electronically and follow up cases with the judiciary;

- Online access to case-related information.

(b) The Crime Occurrence Tracking System (COTS) is being implemented in phases. COTS Phase 1 will be used for close monitoring of crime occurrences. This will make crime statistics available in real time. The system will contribute towards an enhanced customer-centered service for peace, security and order in the entire country. COTS will cater for the end-to-end automation of all processes, from the electronic lodging of complaints at the police station to determination in a court of law, with the possibility of electronic tracking of intermediate phases. Data captured at police stations would be cross-checked and validated against other databases such as: passenger travel information, vehicle information database and citizen details. COTS has been piloted at two Police Divisions. The system will now be deployed at the other five Police Divisions.

(c) The E-Payment project aims at facilitating transactions made at government counters and to encourage the adoption of government e-services. The e-payment system will support payment by credit/debit cards with a view to reducing time spent to make payments. The Generic E-Payment system is operational from November 2013 on the new platform of the Government Online Centre.

(d) The Ministry has developed the complete strategic framework for the adoption of eHealth in the country (eHealth Plan 2009 - 2015 ). The prime objective of the recommendations outlined in the plan is to improve the healthcare provided to all citizens through an appropriate ICT strategy that will enhance the work processes of the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, its departments and health agencies. In line with the E-Health Plan, the government is presently developing the E-health system that would ensure the computerization of all health services in hospitals, area health centres and Community health centres. This is a major building block towards having a National Health Information Systems that spans over the public and private health sectors. ICT will be used to facilitate the provision of health care to citizens.

(e) The E-prison system aims to make the management of prisons much easier through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), as a key enabler for Service Delivery and efficiency. The e-Prison system will provide opportunities for bringing in better security of the prison, safe custody of inmates, and facilitate the provision of rehabilitative programmes aimed at reforming prisoners.

(f) The National ICT Strategic Plan (NICTSP) 2011 - 2014 : Towards i-Mauritius has called for a paradigm shift in our e-Government Strategy that advocates placing citizens at the centre of public service delivery. In this context, the government has recently carried out an assessment of e-Government needs and adequacy of existing infrastructures and a Draft E-Government strategy Report has been developed and approved by Cabinet in January 2014. The eGovernment Strategy takes stock of gaps between needs and availability of services and make appropriate recommendations for a more effective, secured and efficient delivery of Government services to citizens and businesses.

(g) An integrated web-based e-Procurement System (ePS) for the Public Sector that will improve its procurement processes and enhance transparency is in progress. The e-Procurement system aims to cover works, goods, services and consultancy services projects and to support key stakeholders, namely: Public Bodies, Central Procurement Board, Independent Review Panel, Procurement Policy Office, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Accountant General, National Audit Office and Bidders/Suppliers to conduct business online.

Critical Information Infrastructure Framework

The project aims at setting up a policy framework for Information Security Assurance and Critical Information Infrastructure Protection with the main objective of identifying and protecting the critical information infrastructures of Mauritius. The policy will be based on the UN Resolution 58/199: Creating a Global Culture of Cybersecurity and Protection of Critical Information Infrastructures and focuses on leadership, risk mitigation and awareness and defines a plan of immediate actions to strengthen the security and resilience of CIIs. The main critical sectors identified for Mauritius are namely Energy, Financial Services (incl. Banking), Government Services, Health, ICT & Broadcasting, Manufacturing, Sugar, Transport & Logistics, Tourism, Customs and Water Supply. The main recommendations for the policy fall under 3 main pillars:-

- Leadership and Governance : Establish clear leadership and governance in information security risk management at national level and at level of organizations;

- Risk Mitigation: Establish mandatory information security risk management policy for critical sector operators to protect against cyber security threats.

- Awareness and Prevention: Promote the adoption of information security best practices.

The project forms part of the the National CyberSecurity Strategy and Action Plan 2014 - 2019. It is expected to start from February 2014.

National Green IT Policy and Strategy

Recognising the importance of Green IT initiatives worldwide, a draft National Green IT Strategy and Action Plan has been developed. This project aims to provide Green IT Management Strategy, technology principles and standards, and a strong operating model to facilitate and implement Green IT at the national level. Five key strategic objectives have been recommended, namely:

- Establish an institutional framework to drive Green IT at a national level across government, private sector and civil society;

- Embed environmental performance across any stage of ICT projects;

- Measure, monitor consumption of nonrenewable energy used to power ICT equipment and manage the carbon footprint;

- Reduce, re-use and recycle IT equipment to limit environmental impact; and

- Accelerate, empower and promote awareness of Green IT to society in collaboration with international institutions.

Green IT Awareness activities such as workshop for businesses, developing and disseminating guidelines on Green IT, essay and project competition at the level of secondary and tertiary institutions, training leading to industry certification, etc... are ongoing activities carried out by the National Computer Board.

EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres

In line with its initiatives to promote Green IT, the National Computer Board organised a capacity building programme on EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres (EUCOC) in May-June 2013, leading to industry certification from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, with 60 participants from organisations operating data centres or large server rooms. The EUCOC is a series of best practices that have been created by the UK's Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural affaires (DEFRA), the British Computer Society Data Centre specialist group (BCS DCSG) and the EU Joint Research Centre (EU-JRC) in conjunction with industry professionals for use in mission critical data centres/server room environments. They provide mechanisms for ICT staff to implement energy efficiency measures to reduce energy consumption, thus reducing GHG emission and associated reduction in energy costs. This capacity building programme has been funded by the European Union and a Report has been prepared by the Consultant with the main objective of providing recommendations and measures to enhance energy efficient data centres in Mauritius.

The NCB has been granted an "Endorser" of the EUCOC, being the first organisation in the African Region, with the main aim of promoting the code for data centres in Mauritius.

National eWaste Policy, Strategy and Action

This project is currently in progress where three experts funded by the European Union are developing the eWaste (electronic waster, electrical and electronic equipment) Policy, Strategy and Action Plan for Mauritius. The specific objectives of this project are to:

- Assess and evaluate existing e-waste policy, initiatives, gaps, challenges and opportunities in/for the management of e-wastes in Mauritius.

- Develop comprehensive national e-waste policy, strategies and an action plan for the environmentally sound management (ESM) of e-wastes in Mauritius.

- Recommend appropriate economic and policy instruments and financing mechanism which will favour the ESM management of e-wastes in Mauritius.

- Recommend appropriate legal, institutional and administrative framework for the ESM of e-wastes in Mauritius.

National Cyber Security Strategy for Mauritius

A national cyber security strategy and action plan for 2014-2019 has been developed. The implementation of the strategy will help Mauritius to better respond to cyber threats. The strategy defines four main goals. The action plan is spread over a period of 5 years for the completion of all projects.

The four defined goals of the strategy are as follows:

- To secure our Cyberspace and establish a front line of defense against Cybercrime.

- To enhance our resilience to Cyber Attacks and be able to defend against the full spectrum of Threats.

- To develop an efficient collaborative model between the authorities and the business community for the purpose of advancing National Cyber Security and Cyber Defense.

- To improve the Cyber Expertise and the comprehensive Cyber Security Awareness of all societal actors

ICT Projects with Cross-border Potential

Regional CERT (AfriCERT)

AfriCERT (the Regional CERT for Africa), which is similar to APCERT for Asia Pacific, is a coalition of CERTs of African countries. It was setup in 2011 and officially incorporated in Accra, Ghana. Its main objective is to enhance the cyber security of African countries through effective collaboration and communication with all stakeholders concerned across Africa. Mauritian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-MU) is collaborating with the AfricaCERT. The latter shares malicious data (includes malware or bot, DNS Changer victims) for Mauritius with CERT-MU, which is collected from research honeypots using ATLAS sensors. CERT-MU liases with local ISP's to take necessary actions.

ICT Regional Exhibition

The main objectives of organising a Regional ICT Exhibition and Conference Event are to:

- Create awareness on emerging technologies;

- Sensitize on the potential applications of ICT and choice of technology for effective business and individual solutions;

- Sensitize on career opportunities in the ICT sector;

- Encourage people to go for higher level industry-based certifications;

- Promote and encourage ICT literacy; and

- Bring Government services closer to the people by providing accessible and integrated online public services.

NCB organises the Infotech ICT Regional Exhibition and Conference event on a yearly basis with the following objectives:

- Meet and participate in business exchanges with local and international players and stakeholders of the ICT sector

- Create awareness on achievements and developments in the ICT sector in the region

- Provide information on ICT products, services and technologies in the region

- Explore areas of collaboration and tie ups through networking activities

The 21st edition of Infotech is scheduled in November 2014 at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre.

The NCB in collaboration with the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) also organised the first edition of Infotech Rodrigues in November 2012. Followinh the grand success of Infotech Rodrigues 2012, it has been decided to make Infotech a yearly event in Rodrigues. Infotech Rodrigues aims at creating more awareness on emerging technologies and bringing ICT closer to the Rodriguan citizens. The next Infotech Rodrigues event will be organised in August 2014..

The National Computer Board (NCB) and the Mauritius IT Industry Association (MITIA) jointly organised the 2nd annual edition of ProIT in May 2012, the first edition was organised in April 2011. ProIT is a professional B2B Exhibition and Conference event that enables operators of the ICT industry to showcase their expertise, products and solutions. The event targets mainly professionals of the ICT sector, SMEs, corporates and the business community. It is proposed to include more regional players from other countries to make the event an ICT Regional Exhibition and Conference.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) in collaboration with the Board of Investment (BOI), the National Investment Promotion Agency of the Government of Mauritius, organised the first edition of 'International ICT-BPO Investment Forum 2013' in Mauritius on 6-7 June 2013. This Forum served as a leading platform for investments in the ICT/BPO sector. The main objectives were to attract potential investors in Mauritius and to showcase to the global investors' community what Mauritius could offer

A 3rd edition of the ICT-BPO International Conference was held in December 2013 to promote Mauritius as a preferred ICT-BPO hub and bringing the Global ICT Community and Outsourcing Professionals, Business Professionals together for Knowledge Sharing, and Networking experience. The ICT-BPO International Conferences was preceded by the Youth Engagement Summit (YES), whose objective is to place youth at the centre of Africa's ICT Development Agenda, is an initiative of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology of Mauritius.

Regional Internet Exchange Point

The setting up of a regional Internet Exchange Point is to keep local contents within the region. Its purpose is to efficiently route all intra-Regional Internet traffic among the operators without having to pass through the United States or Europe. This will allow the regional data carriers to significantly optimize upstream capacity costs, enhance their existing bandwidth capacities and reduce the size of the routing tables worldwide

Regional Centre of Excellence

The setting up of a Regional Centre of Excellence is to foster ICT development in the region with objective to:

- Providing training to ICT professionals of countries in the African region

- Sharing of policy experience and know-how of developed countries

- Enhancing R&D in ICT

It is proposed to set up the Mauritian ICT Academy which will aim at equipping the youth of Mauritius with knowledge, skills and being benchmarked globally through International Certifications so that to ensure the sustained development of the ICT sector. L'Agence Française de Développement (AFD) is showing interest in funding the project.