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 (Government 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), Green IT (National Green IT Policy and Strategy, eWaste Policy and Stategy) and Open Source Policy and Strategy).

Universal ICT Education Programme

The National Computer Board (NCB) operating under the aegis of the MTCI 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 45 hrs in duration and trainings are done in state secondary colleges after school hours. To date 197,000 people have been trained on IC3.

In January 2010, NCB launched the UIEP Phase II whereby more than 3,000 online professional IT and non-IT courses were made available at very interesting prices to all those who complete the IC3 or already have a recognised certificate in IT. 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. This phase II is currently being reviewed where most of the advanced courses will be delivered by the ICT Academy.

ICT Academy

The ICT Academy was set up by the MTCI and operated by the NCB, with the main objective of meeting the demand of the ICT/BPO industry in terms of skilled manpower. Different training programmes under the Capacity Building Framework of the Ministry of TCI are being implemented at the Academy to increase employability, address the skill shortage that exist in the ICT/BPO sector and to bridge the skill mismatch gap between unemployed IT jobseekers and industry requirements. Training programmes are dispensed at the Academy in collaboration with different Industry players such SIL, IBM, Microsoft, TWO institute for Cisco Academy, OTAM, MITIA and others. Some of these programmes that are to be launched include: Mobile Application Professionalisation scholarship programme; ICT Career Readiness in CCNA, PHP and Dreamweaver; Oracle Certified Associate - Java SE8; Oracle Database 11g Administrator and Mobile Application development. Trainings such as BPO Certification courses are also provided as required.

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, 280 computer clubs with free Internet access have been set up in 23 youth centres, 17 women centres, 57 social welfare centres, 132 community centres, 20 day-care centres and 31 NGOs/Municipal Councils/Village Halls across the island. Around 1.37 million people (including recurrent users) have been able to make use of the facilities. Access to ICT has been further extended by setting up 7 Learning Corners in different parts of Mauritius and in 11 other locations with the collaboration of the National Empowerment Foundation (NEF).

The CEP has been extended to Rodrigues Island in collaboration with the NEF by setting up of Learning Corners. Each Learning Corner is equipped with three computers and free Internet access and is open to the public. 12 Learning Corners have been set up in Rodrigues.

The Public Internet Access Points, Cyber Caravan projects and Community Web portal are associated with the CEP Programme. One hundred Public Internet Access Points (PIAPs) have been set up in Post Offices (95 in Mauritius and 5 in Rodrigues) and around 223,430 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.

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, Microsoft Office Package (MOP) and IC3 on a regional basis is provided on board the Cyber Caravan. To date, about 163,000 people have been initiated in basic IT Skills (2 hrs course), MOP (28 hours course) and IC3 (45 hrs course).

The Community Web portal 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.

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 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. The list of e-services have been segmented by target persons (105 services), by domain (50 services), by Ministry (40 services), by department (10 services) and by parastatal bodies (10 services). 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 of 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 / Technopreneurship Programme

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.

NCB 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. Microsoft and the US Embassy through the U.S. Global Entrepreneurship Program also supported the NCB for Capacity Building Programme namely Apps and Business plan writing.

The Technopreneurs of NCB are being guided to become world class Technopreneurs. In 2012, Archnet Ltd, one of our Technopreneurs was selected by the US Embassy to participate in the Young African Leaders Innovation Summit and Mentorship Programme in Washington DC, USA. In 2013, LittleBox Studio Ltd, another startup was nominated to participate in the East Africa Regional Startup Boot Camp in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on May 7-8, 2013, as part of the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Initiative. LittleBox Studio was ranked 40th out of 200 participants present at the event.

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

To increase the ICT Adoption among SME's Workshop on "SMART SMEs: Empowering SMEs through ICT" was organized to trigger the importance of ICT adoption among non ICT SMEs.

The objectives of the SMART SMEs conference were to create greater awareness among SME's on the benefits of ICT in enhancing their competitiveness in the new Economy; to learn how ICT can best help SMEs to solve their business challenges for self-empowerment, greater efficiency and sustainable growth and to showcase and promote ICT products and services that is most applicable to the ICT development of SMEs.

The NCB Technopreneurship Programme is promoting TechIdeaSpace. TechIdeaSpace is a new program to help nascent Technology start-ups with innovative ideas to transform these into successful business. The objectives of TechIdeaSpace are to:

- Ensure continuous creation of ideas and start-ups.

- Inspire and stimulate development of innovative ideas among start-ups

- Sensitise and disseminate knowledge on Technopreneurship.

- Identify potential ideas for further transformation into successful businesses

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. The scheme entitles ICT/BPO companies to claim the refund of up to 50% of stipend and 50% of training costs, 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.

To date, c. 176 companies and 1,700 active job-seekers have registered with the ISDP, out of which around 1,450 participants have secured training and work placement.

E-Government Projects

In line with the eGovernment Strategy 2013 - 2017, a number of eGovernment projects have been implemented:

- Law and Order - Crime Occurrence Tracking System (COTS). In November 2012 the Crime Occurrence Tracking System (COTS) was implemented on a pilot basis to empower MPF with a tool for effective and efficient tracking of crime occurrences in the country using emerging ICT solutions. The system encompasses Computerisation of Occurrence Book & Master Registers, Tracking of movement of case file or dossier, Generation of Statistical Information and Maintenance of confidentiality. With COTS in place, statements are captured electronically at Police Stations, finding of enquiries captured online and cases lodged at Courts. Thus ensuring that case related information are available at the finger tips and closer monitoring of crime cases and statistics.

- e-Prison: The e-Prison system was launched in May 2014 for a better management of the prison inmates and a follow-up on their rehabilitation.

- e-Judiciary - In April 2013, an e-Filing System has been implemented at the Commercial Court for commercial cases. This initiative ushers in an age of modernity to the way cases are filed and processed in our courts. The next stage will be the roll out of the solution to other courts including district courts for the trial of criminal cases.

- e-Procurement: The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) is currently implementing an integrated web-based e-Procurement System (ePS) for the Public Sector that will improve procurement processes and enhance transparency.

- e-Work Permit: This system aims to faciliate the application and issuing of work permits within 2 week. A a full-scale review of the work processes at the Employment Division was undertaken through the establishment of an e-Work Permit Plan in June 2012 by the services of the Central Informatics Bureau of the Ministry of ICT

- e-Education: Interactive projectors have been introduced at upper primary level through the Sankore project. Tablet PCs were distributed to Form V students in 2014. The classrooms are undergoing a major uplifting through the provision of Wi-Fi connectivity and high bandwidth Internet to Secondary Schools.

- eHealth: Work is ongoing to implement an eHealth system including electonic medical records, electronic imaging systems and ePrescriptions

- Document Management System - supported by Public Key Infrastructure which was set upu in June 2012

- e-Payment project: The ePayment system is operational since November 2013 in the Government Online Centre supporting payment for driving license and police fees, for Lease of state land, for Incorporation of a business, company registration fees and parking fines

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 National CyberSecurity Strategy and Action Plan 2014 - 2019.

EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres

In line with its initiatives to promote Green IT, the NCB organised a capacity building programme on EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres (EUCOC) in 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 was 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.

Implementation of Anti-Cyber Threat Monitoring System

The Cyber Threat Monitoring System will enable CERT to better respond, monitor and coordinate cyber-threats at the national level. The system will have the capability for early detection of potentially devastating cyber-attacks and the ability to respond to cyber security incidents in real time. Through this establishment, cyber threats can be monitored round-the-clock for critical installations.

The core functions of the system are to:

- Reduce the risk of cyber security threats and attacks on government websites and portals, as well as critical information infrastructures.

- Carry out round-the-clock security operations for early detection and prevention of potential cyber threats.

- Gather cyber threat intelligence, which it will analyse and assess for drawing up defensive measures at the national level.

- Promote awareness of cyber threats and coordinate security responses in both public and private sectors.

The other core activity of the Anti- Cyber Threat Monitoring System is the Cyber Threat Analysis. This will help to mitigate cyber risk with a comprehensive approach to threat identification, intelligence gathering and validation, and response to protect critical information of the constituency members. This will also help to determine the nature of attacks, vulnerability types and analysis of malicious code.