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Mauritius: E-Commerce

Introduction

Mauritius encourages information technology operations, and the territory has invested heavily in state-of-the-art telecommunications with clear interest being shown in offshore e-commerce development.

Speaking in December, 2002, Mauritian Finance Minister, Sushil Kushiram announced that the Indian Government would be assisting in the e-development initiative, providing a credit line of USD100 million to finance the development of the Mauritius 'cyber city'.

Construction began in earnest in 2004 under the control of Business Parks of Mauritius (BPML) — a private company in Mauritius — and the Mauritius government.

The Cyber Tower, a central feature of the Ebene Cyber City, was inaugurated in April, 2005.

In April, 2006, the Prime Minister, Navin Ramgoolan, inaugurated the new offices of offshore management company International Financial Services in the Ebene CyberCity, expressing strong support for the e-commerce sector.

The Prime Minister paid tribute to the professionalism, the application, and the entrepreneurial and innovative qualities of the directors of IFS. Their efforts had made their company one of the leaders in their field, he said.

However, he criticized the Financial Services Promotion Agency (FSPA), which he said had not done all it could to position Mauritius at the forefront of the developing e-commerce sector internationally. He asked the FSPA to be more aggressive in marketing terms and to adopt creative strategies to attract more operators to the offshore sector.

The CyberCity has attracted about 60 operators at the time of writing and include companies such as Orange, Infosys, Infinity BPO and Hua Wei. Built with support from India, and just 15 minutes drive from Port-Louis, the CyberCity has free zone status and offers tax advantages to its occupants. Spread over an area of about 172 acres, the Ebene CyberCity is divided into 7 zones, with each zone being provided with water, power, roads, drainage and other facilities. The entire CyberCity is wired with optic-fibre and copper cables to provide high speed international bandwidth on tap. 

Mauritius has recently placed more emphasis on development of its offshore sector, and the Prime Minister said that he entirely supported the recent 'paradigm shift' of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) as regards the regulation of the offshore economy, which he said should be flexible and effective.

In October, 2006, Oracle, the global software and database company said it would establish a centre of excellence in Mauritius as part of a project aimed at promoting the development of the ICT sector in the jurisdiction.

The primary objective of the programme is to provide public officers, in particular from the Central Informatics Bureau and the Central Information Systems Division, with insight into the creation and maintenance of the Oracle database system.

The centre will be the first of its type in Africa.

The Oracle Training Programme for Database Administrators came about as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications and Oracle Systems on May 17, 2006.

The MoU provided a facilitation framework for the implementation of e-Government initiatives, the further development of ICT culture and enhancement capacity building in the sector as well as the adoption of best practices in ICT.

In 2010, value added generated by the ICT sector in Mauritius was R16.941 billion (USD477 million), a rise of 14.1% from 2009, the Mauritius Board of Investment announced in a report on the sector in August 2011.

The contribution of this sector to the Gross Domestic Product for 2012 rose 6.1%. The share of the sector in GDP remained unchanged from 2011 at 6.4%.

According to the first issue of the Economic and Social Indicators report dedicated to the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector, there were a total of 300 large establishments operating in this sector in 2009, employing over 12,000 people. In 2012, this figure has risen to nearly 13,000.

In October 2007, the Mauritian cabinet approved a national ICT strategy, with the aim of elevating the jurisdiction towards the status of a regional technology hub over five years.

The National ICT Strategic Plan (NICTSP) 2007-2011 seeks to provide the right environment for the harnessing of ICT to generate employment, improve quality of life, and create new opportunities for the socio-economic development of Mauritius. The report identifies the primary targets to be achieved in two broad sectors, namely: Information Economy and Information Society.

The strategy's expected goals are a 7% contribution to the gross domestic product of Mauritius from offshore ICT export services, employment of at least 29,000 qualified individuals, employment of 90% of those who graduate in ICT, the doubling of the number of foreign investors, and Memoranda of Understanding for collaborative ventures in the field of ICT with countries in the region.

Other key objectives of the government's strategy include an increase in preference for ICT, with at least 50% acceptance for services available online, an increase in PC ownership by 20,000 households, and 12,000 PCs in primary schools, 150 Public Internet Access Points across the island, Internet connectivity and networking of all primary, secondary schools, and an increase in broadband penetration by at least 250,000.

 

 

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