i-Mauritius – The Making of a Digital Nation
Situated in the Indian Ocean, at the crossroad of Africa and Asia, Mauritius with a bilingual population of 1.3 million inhabitants has built a reputation for quality and competitiveness and has today one of the strongest economies in Africa. It has undergone major changes in the last four decades, following its indepen¬dence. Categorized under lower-income group countries in the early days of its economic development, with an economy dominated by the mono crop sugarcane, today the landscape has been transformed into a service-oriented economy. In fact, recent economic indicators show that the Services Sector contributes 67 percent of the country’s GPD with three leading economic poles: Tourism, the Financial Sector, and recently, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
The country is recognized as being a safe investment destination due to its long established tradition of socio-political stability, free market economy and good governance. Although the tourism and the financial sectors are well anchored in its traditional economic setup, the ICT sector— albeit a na¬scent industry a few years ago—has recently been pro¬pelled into its new role as the third pillar of the Mauritian economy. ICT’s contribution to the nation’s GDP stood at 6.8 percent in 2012, with a turnover of US$1 billion; the sector employs some 15,000 people, which represents around 4 to 5 percent of the total workforce.
A melting pot of the world's oldest civilisations, Mauritius is a rare example of social peace and unity in a multi-cultural society. The population boasts origins from the European and African continents as well as India and China. Such a cosmopolitan legacy makes for legendary hospitality. All Mauritians enjoy freedom of expression and religion. For centuries, the Republic of Mauritius has been acclaimed for its hospitality and world class tourist attractions.
The vision of the Government of Mauritius is to position the country as a leading ICT destination, being a model in Africa, which supports the new e-Global age: Broadband Internet as a basic citizen’s right, widespread ICT diffusion and adoption, ubiquitous Mobile Communication, State-of-the-Art ICT Infrastructure. Some 600 ICT companies presently operate in Mauritius, in a wide range of activities including software development, call centre operations, business process outsourcing (BPO), IT-enabled services (ITES), web-enabled services, training, hardware assembly and sales, networking, consultancy, multimedia development, disaster recovery (DR) and other support services. The major international ICT players which have set up their operations and development Centres in Mauritius are: Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, HP, CISCO, Orange Business Services, Accenture, Infosys, Hinduja Group, France Telecom, Ceridian, the TNT Group, Ernst and Young, KPMG, Munich Re, etc.
The Republic of Mauritius vitality as an ICT-BPO Hub has resulted from a number of factors such as the changing global economic environment, Government policies, and the bilingual capabilities of the Mauritian population. The Government of Mauritius has made bold investment in technological and human infrastructure. These factors have enabled Mauritius to establish new competitive strategies for value addition investment in the ICT-BPO sector. The Mauritian experience, especially its economic transformation and ICT diffusion process, should be of interest to the policy makers of other countries as well as to scholars and executives involved in international business.