updates on sdg goal 15 in mauritiusMauritius is an island nation of 1.3 million people situated in the Indian Ocean about 700 miles to the east of Madagascar. The island is home to incredibly unique and rare species found nowhere else on the planet, although many have gone extinct in recent decades. One of Earth’s most famous extinct species, the dodo, was a flightless bird endemic to Mauritius. Unfortunately, updates on SDG Goal 15 in Mauritius reveal ongoing problems for biodiversity in the country.

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15, Life on Land, tracks each nation’s attempt to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.” For this goal, Mauritius has the dire U.N. classification of “major challenges remain.” Still, valiant organizations are striving to protect the stunning species and ecosystems found in Mauritius. Here are four updates on SDG Goal 15 in Mauritius.

4 Updates on SDG Goal 15 in Mauritius

  1. The mean area protected in terrestrial sites is important to biodiversity. This statistic is particularly important in Mauritius’s case due to the array of endemic species found on the island. The average area protected for these crucial sites is just over 9%. However, limited protection poses major challenges for protecting biodiversity and preventing native species from going extinct. Despite the efforts of groups like the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, the average protected area has risen by less than 1% since 2000. The fascinating species found within these habitats, like the extraordinary Mauritian flying fox, contribute to the beauty and wonder of the natural world. This may disappear if protected areas do not grow.
  2. Mauritius’ score on the Red List of species survival is getting worse. The Red List measures “the change in aggregate extinction risk across groups of species” with zero being the worst rating and one being the best. Mauritius comes in at 0.39 with its score decreasing steadily each year. Unfortunately, more and more species in Mauritius go extinct every year. There are, however, some success stories. For example, the Saint Telfair’s skink is an abnormally large species of skink (a type of lizard) only found on islands off the coast of Mauritius. The skink used to be dangerously near-extinct, with just 5,000 individuals. But the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust‘s careful recovery efforts have raised the population to 50,000 individuals. Thus, NGOs are fighting to save species from extinction in Mauritius.
  3. Mauritius struggles with the effects of permanent deforestation. This phenomenon occurs when people cut down trees for urbanization or agriculture with no plan to re-plant them. Updates on SDG Goal 15 in Mauritius are the most positive for this statistic. However, challenges remain, as less than 2% of Mauritius’ original forest coverage survives. According to Douglas Adams in “Last Chance to See,” “[v]ast swathes of the Mauritius forest have been destroyed to provide space to grow a cash crop [sugar] which in turn destroys our teeth.” Thankfully, NGOs like Fondation Ressources et Nature are carrying out reforestation projects in Mauritian biodiversity hotspots. The One Million Trees Project also aims to plant one million trees in Mauritius by 2030.
  4. Imports threaten terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity in Mauritius. There is only one nation (Guyana) in the entire world that has a worse ranking than Mauritius in this category. Industrialized nations like the U.S., Canada, Japan and many E.U. countries also struggle with this goal. However, none come close to Mauritius’s ranking. Furthermore, imports that threaten biodiversity in Mauritius only compound the rest of the island’s ecological problems.

Moving Forward

Overall, the forecast for life on land and in Mauritius is grim. Biodiversity hotspots are severely threatened, leading to more species going extinct each year. Additionally, permanent deforestation decimates habitats, and Mauritians’ dependence on imports ravages native species. The country needs to make a concerted effort to save its amazing organisms and environments found nowhere else on Earth. Organizations like the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation are already doing this work, and they could use more international support if Mauritius is to progress on SDG Goal 15.

Spencer Jacobs
Photo: Needpix

mauritius oil spillMauritius is an island nation off the east coast of Africa with a population of fewer than 1.3 million people. In 2019, less than 1% of the population of Mauritius lived below the international poverty line. On July 25, the Japanese-owned oil tanker, the MV Wakashio, ran aground and leaked more than 1000 metric tons of oil into the waters at Pointe d’Esny near “two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve.” As the international community comes together to assist in clean-up efforts, human hair could be a potential solution to the Mauritius oil spill.

Why the Mauritius Oil Spill Needs Urgent Aid

The economy of Mauritius relies heavily on tourism and ocean activities. The tourism industry makes up almost a quarter of the GDP, and another 10% comes from activities reliant on the water, such as fishing. Tourists visit the island nation for its beaches and marine life.  Since the waters surrounding the country are now polluted with oil, the MV Wakashio spill poses a serious threat to the economy of Mauritius as well as the natural environment.

The Science and History a Surprising Solution

Hair was first studied as a solution after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989. After noticing that hair absorbed oil at the salon he owned, Phil McCrory of Alabama began studying human hair as a potential tool for cleaning up oil spills. He was awarded two patents for devices made of human hair that sucked up oil from water.
Hair is highly absorptive and has been shown to take in up to nine times its weight in oil. While hair is a potential solution to the Mauritius oil spill, this is not the first time it’s been used for this purpose. Human hair specifically has been used as a clean-up tool after other oil spills. Hair-stuffed nylon stockings were also successfully used in 2010 to assist in clean-up efforts following the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A study released a week before the Mauritius oil spill found human hair to be as effective as synthetic materials in clean-ups. A study conducted by the University of Technology Sydney comparing plastic-based materials commonly used to clean up oil spills to organic materials found that hair is successful at absorbing oil from ocean and solid land environments. According to this study, hair is as good as synthetic materials when it comes to absorbing oil from land and hard surfaces.

How Human Hair Can Help in Mauritius

Hair salons around Mauritius have been offering free and discounted hair cuts in order to donate the trimmings to clean-up efforts. Volunteers stuff the hair into stockings and use it to both corral the oil, preventing its spread, and absorb it from the water. Hair donations from around the world are also being shipped to the country to provide additional assistance.

Human hair is a potential solution to the Mauritius oil spill and is a useful tool in clean-ups after any future spills as it is in constant supply, affordable and natural and therefore more quickly biodegradable than synthetic materials such as the plastics traditionally used in clean-ups. The country’s economy relies heavily on the Indian Ocean surrounding it for both tourism and fishing, so finding affordable and sustainable means of absorbing the spillage from the MV Wakashio, such as human hair, is necessary to maintain the economy of the country and prevent the spread of devastation and poverty.

Sydney Leiter
Photo: Pixabay

Eradicating Poverty in Mauritius
Home to approximately 1.2 million people, the Republic of Mauritius is an island located off of the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius has a complicated history of Dutch, French and British colonization, though it gained independence in 1968. Previously, the economy of Mauritius emerged solely from sugar production. However, exports, tourism, agriculture and financial services are key pillars of today’s economy as the successful efforts to diversify since 1980. With a successful economy, less than 1% of the population of Mauritius was living on less than $1.25 per day in 2012. This means extreme poverty in Mauritius is rare.

Poverty Rate

The middle class is shrinking as relative poverty rates have been steadily increasing over time from 8.5% in 2007 to 9.8% in 2012. Additionally, it is important to note that within the Republic, Rodrigues Island has high rates of poverty. About 40% of the inhabitants live in poverty. This is due to its lack of exportable resources as well as the fact that it is not able to participate in the tourist industry.

Plans to Eradicate Poverty in Mauritius

The Social Integration and Empowerment Bill is in place in an effort to eradicate social exclusion and poverty. From 2017 to 2020 the Mauritian government has allocated $63 million to implement the plan from which the bill originated.

The three features of the Social Integration and Empowerment Bill are as follows:

  1. The School Completion Premium is a cash incentive to keep disadvantaged young people from dropping out of school before finishing their secondary education. This program also specifically focuses on young people on Rodrigues Island, where poverty rates are higher than the rest of the Republic.
  2. Social protections have emerged that target the poor. For example, universal pensions for all and subsidies for the elderly and students. These protections include universal basic pensions, free health services, free public transportation and free education. Without these protections, the poverty rate would have increased greatly. It is estimated that the 2017 poverty rate of 9.6% would have been 23% without any protections. In addition, the rate will be 16.1% without government-funded education services alone.
  3. The plan directs resources towards modernization by connecting the poor with mobile phones. As a result, this will give them access to a wider range of information and opportunities.

Other features of the Marshall Plan include the empowerment of women and youth. This will increase the human capital of the Republic and environmental protections which benefit the poor. The government’s commitment to ending poverty in Mauritius through policy and reforms reflects the resilience and spirit of the beautiful. With continued reforms and expansion of policies, poverty in Mauritius will likely continue to decrease.

Meg Sinnott
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Mauritius
Known for its tropical warm waters, the Republic of Mauritius is one of the major tourist destinations of the world. Mauritius has the highest life expectancy in the African continent, with a population of nearly 1.2 million. A nation’s life expectancy has proven time and again to be one of the major factors fostering its economic development. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Mauritius.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mauritius

  1. According to the World Bank, the total life expectancy at birth in Mauritius stood at 74.5 years in 2017. Males live up to 71.3 years whereas females have a higher life expectancy, living up to almost 79 years. 
  2. As one of the top 10 free economies of the world, Mauritius has the second-highest GDP in the African continent and economists estimate the GDP per capita will reach $11,200 by the end of 2020. With a 3.8 percent growth rate, the island nation shows a great promise in improving the quality of life for its residents. Mauritius spent about 4.8 percent of the total GDP on health care in 2014.
  3. Ischemic heart disease and diabetes rank among the top two causes of death in Mauritius, although the number of deaths from diabetes has surged by 37 percent from 2007 to 2017. The Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, Mauritius Institute of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) have suggested several dietary guidelines to regulate diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.
  4. Several islands like the island of Rodrigues suffer from extreme poverty and lack of access to basic amenities, which decreases life expectancy, even though Mauritius has one of the fastest-growing African economies. However, the economic inequality growing in the nation has been the primary target for The Marshall Plan Against Poverty which tackles several of these hindrances and plans to better the lives of communities falling under the poverty line. The plan allows the people living in absolute poverty to be on the receiving end of cash transfers and the support of social workers to help them battle the challenges faced because of their economic conditions.
  5. As a welfare state, the government of Mauritius provides free health care to its citizens, making it highly accessible. Medical care standards are very high with qualified health professionals attending 98 percent of childbirths, reducing the risk of infant mortality. Additionally, Mauritius had 1.06 physicians per 1,000 people in 2004. 
  6. Physical activity and way of life play a major role in life expectancy. With a surge in its non-communicable diseases, researchers found that only 23 percent of the adult Mauritius population engages in WHO’s recommended physical activity level, which is 150 minutes per week. According to Dr. Anwar Husnoo, the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, the number stooped to 19 percent in the case of young adults. He stated this at a December 2018 workshop in Quatre Bornes, to raise awareness of the importance of the physical activity.
  7. Many parts of the world still heavily stigmatize mental health and Mauritius is no exception. With only 1.6 psychiatrists available for 100,000 people in a country where 28.4 out of 1,000 citizens suffer from severe mental or substance abuse disorders, the nation still has a long way to increase its life expectancy. An upside to this is that the care and treatment of major health disorders receive complete coverage in the country’s health care schemes, making it easier for its citizens to approach treatments more openly.
  8. The infant mortality rate in Mauritius has been on a steady decline since 1969 from 62.8 deaths per 1,000 live births to 13.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018. This was due to the increase in medical standards and supervised childbirths. Access to vaccines has also played a key role. According to UNICEF, 99 percent of the children received doses of a measles-containing vaccine, as administered in the national schedule.
  9. The life expectancy of Mauritius’ male population tends to be less than that of the female population. Research that NCBI carried out analyzed the patterns in the influence of cause-of-death structure on age and found out that the infectious diseases were a major cause of death in younger Mauritian males, while circulatory causes like heart diseases resulted in major deaths among the older male population. Type 2 diabetes is still a major cause of death in Mauritian females, as it affects 21.3 percent of the female population of the country.
  10. The percentage of the urban population of a nation often contributes to its life expectancy. A higher urban population often means easier access to basic amenities and health care which reduces the mortality rate due to preventable causes. By 2018, 40.79 percent of the Mauritius population lived in urban areas. The current percentage has certainly contributed to the steady increase of the life expectancy in Mauritius even though it is nearly 4 percent less than the highest percentage of the urban population that Mauritius ever recorded (which was 44.1 percent).

Taking all these factors into consideration, there is no doubt that Mauritius is moving steadily forward in increasing its life expectancy and making better living conditions more accessible and possible for all sections of its population.

– Reshma Beesetty
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in MauritiusMauritius is a beautiful island nation located in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Southern Africa. Long-renowned for its beautiful beaches, Mauritius celebrates a vibrant history and complex mix of cultures. Vestiges of Portuguese, French and British control and long periods of labor migration left clear marks on the current society. Recent decades have been transformative for the country, starting with its independence in 1968. To grasp a better idea about how life evolved on the island, keep reading to learn 10 facts about living conditions in Mauritius.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Mauritius

  1. Mauritius was once a country with high fertility rates, averaging about 6.2 children per woman in 1963. A drastic decline in fertility rates took place, dropping to only 3.2 children per woman in 1972. This shift comes as a result of higher education levels, later marriages and the use of effective family planning methods for women. This is especially important for the island nation, as space and resources are limited.
  2. Mauritius has no indigenous populations, as years of labor migration and European colonialism created a unique ethnic mix. Two-thirds of the current population is Indo-Mauritian due to a great influx of indentured Indians in the 1800s, who eventually settled permanently on the island. Creole, Sino-Mauritian and Franco-Mauritian make up the remaining one-third of the population. However, it is important to note that Mauritius did not include a question on its national census about ethnicity since 1972.
  3.  The population density in Mauritius is one of the highest in the world, with 40.8 percent of the population living in urban environments. The greatest density is in and around Port Louis, the nation’s capital, with a population of 149,000 people living in the city proper alone.
  4. Close to the entire population of Mauritius has access to an improved drinking water source. In urban populations, 99.9 percent of the population has clean water access. There is a negligible difference in rural populations, with 99.8 percent of people accessing clean water. This is essential for the health and protection of populations from common waterborne diseases, like cholera and dysentery.
  5. In 2012, the government allocated 4.8 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to health care. For this reason, an effective public health care system is in place, boasting high medical care standards. The government committed to prevent a user cost at the point of delivery, meaning that quality health care and services are distributed equally throughout the country regardless of socioeconomic status or geographical location.
  6. Non-communicable diseases accounted for 86 percent of the mortality rate in 2012, the most prevalent being cardiovascular diseases. This contrasts with communicable diseases, like measles and hepatitis, which accounted for 8 percent of all mortality in that same year.
  7. Since gaining its independence in 1968, the island’s economy underwent a drastic transformation. The once low-income and agriculture-based economy is now diversified and growing, relying heavily on sugar, tourism and textiles, among other sectors. The GDP is now $13.33 billion. Agriculture accounts for 4 percent, industry 21.8 percent and services 74.1 percent. Government policies focused strongly on stimulating the economy, mainly by modernizing infrastructure and serving as the gateway for investment into the African continent.
  8. Currently, 8 percent of the 1.36 million Mauritian total population is living below the poverty line. Less than 1 percent of the population is living on $1 a day or less, meaning that extreme poverty is close to non-existent. In the hopes to fully eradicate poverty, the government has implemented the Mauritius Marshall Plan Against Poverty which works with poor communities to give greater access to education, health, and social protection measures.
  9. Many environmental issues threaten the island nation, including but not limited to water pollution, soil erosion and endangerment of wildlife. Main sources of water pollution include sewage and agricultural chemicals, while soil erosion is mainly due to deforestation. In the hopes to combat negative outcomes, the government created and published the Mauritius Environment Outlook Report. It recognizes the importance of environmental issues and acknowledges its integral link to the pursuit of sustainable development in the country.
  10. In 2017, the education sector received 5 percent of GDP. Approximately 93.2 percent of the population over the age of 15 can read and write. Gender disparities do exist, as 95.4 percent of males and 91 percent of females are considered literate. Unfortunately, this disparity persists in the job market as well: female unemployment is high and women are commonly overlooked for positions in upper-tier jobs.

The island continues to prioritize health, education and boosting its economy, all of which are essential for the improvement of living conditions in Mauritius. With positive momentum building since its independence in the 1960s, the country propelled itself into a stable and productive future.

Natalie Abdou
Photo: Pixabay

Credit Access in Mauritius
Mauritius, the island nation in the Indian Ocean, has undergone a financial transformation since the early 2000s, promoted by the government in order to catalyze the economy of the country. This has impacted credit access in Mauritius in a big way. Since 2000, the country has experienced losses connected to its truncated access to EU sugar and textile markets and is facing steeper competition from China and other East Asian exports.

Mauritius Economy Compared to Other Countries

This loss of preferential treatment and high budget deficit spells a slight struggle for Mauritius to retain its middle-income standing. Currently, the country ranks 65th in the world on the Human Development Index, and in 2014, it was the second highest country in Africa on the development list. Mauritius’ Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is at $9,770 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that the country performs better than the average compared with other sub-Saharan African and middle-income countries as far as information ability, involvement of the trade community, advance rulings, appeal procedures and internal border agency cooperation.

By continuing to focus on the area of governance and impartiality, Mauritius can increase its trade volumes and lower trade costs. A strengthened customs system and transparent ethics policy could be the final stretch to reach the Prime Minister’s dream of a high-income country.

Government Initiatives

The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, has predicted a revamping of the economy and expresses hope for Mauritius moving into the future. Key reforms introduced in the 2018/2019 budget helped bring Mauritius its present position. The Minister also touched on the government’s dedication to raising the country to high-income level country, thereby funneling benefits to every citizen. Already this commitment can be seen in the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and financial services, estimated to continue at 4.1 percent in 2019.

The government introduced changes to the legislative system in order to prevent money laundering and corrupt business. In his speech, the Prime Minister assured that the country is conducting a national risk assessment of terrorism financing.

Credit Access in Mauritius

A report from the Global Findex as of 2017 records 68.5 percent of Mauritians making or receiving digital payments, as well as 48.3 percent using credit or debit cards. The percentage of adults above the age of 15 who borrowed from a financial institution in Mauritius was at 22.9 percent, much higher than the sub-Saharan average of 8.4 percent, in comparison. Outstanding housing loans are increasing in availability as well, and almost 90 percent of adults were able to obtain access to financial institution accounts, banks or otherwise.

Enjoying past growth of upwards of 6 percent in the 1990s and continued economic performance, Mauritius is still dealing with the changes in the EU Sugar Protocol and falling sugar prices. As of 2006, the government incentivized seafood production in order to shift toward exporting fish instead of sugar, as well as a list of Integrated Resort Schemes offering luxury villas to foreigners. Diversifying the market and leveling the competition will surely launch Mauritius ahead in the economic playing field. The GDP by sector reveals the sugar sector operates at a modest 4.3 percent in 2007, led by government services at 15 percent, wholesale at 11, finance and real estate at 14.2 and many other diverse trade sectors.

Unfortunately, drastic adjustments meant one-third of employees for the sugar sector were redundant. The lost sugar income has still not been completely replaced, but the government is focused on diversification and increasing exports in the coming years.

In addition to experiencing an incredible 195 percent wealth growth from 2007 to 2017, credit access in Mauritius continues to increase due to strong ownership rights, a resilient economy, and ease of investment. Hopefully, the country’s example spearheads a movement throughout Asia for easier credit access and stable banks and economy.

– Hannah Peterson
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Mauritius
Mauritius is a beautiful island nation in the Indian Ocean long marveled for its exquisite beaches, temperate climate and tropical wildlife. On March 12, 1968, Mauritius gained independence and has since worked to stabilize its people and economy.

Under the parliamentary system, there have been ups and downs. There has, however, been a large push in recent years to equalize and promote equality of girls’ education in Mauritius.

Mauritius School Enrollment

Over the years, Mauritius has had an increase of boys enrolled in school, both in primary and secondary grades. However, with an uptick in the care for girls’ education in Mauritius, there has also been an increase in the girls attending school.

As of 2015, the gender parity between the sexes was 1.03, an indication that there are actually more boys left out of the current curriculum than girls. This is a big difference from the 1970s where the disparity was between 0.93 and 0.95. Such a change shows the work that Mauritius has done to assure that girls’ education in Mauritius is a forefront focus of the country.

The problem women face in the Mauritius economy does not end at the education level. In fact, girls education in Mauritius is one of the rare areas in which women outshine their male counterparts. While women currently outperform men in the school systems, female unemployment is quite high and women are mostly not employed in upper-tier jobs.

Gender Inequality

A documented reason for such a void is the lack of women with STEM-related degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) since they are mostly focusing on the humanities instead. Mauritius values the higher paying STEM careers, and there exists a continuous and gender unequal payment gap as a result.

Unfortunately, the history of colonialism in Mauritius displays its ugly side even today and has contributed to the classist privilege for certain people to obtain education over others. Many children, primarily from the non-elite groups in Mauritius, leave school before passing government tests.

Additionally, 20 percent of the students that do leave are considered to be functionally illiterate, which leads to marginalization — especially of women in society. Poverty rates then also increase as a result.

STEM Focus

There has been a recent push in papers written and subjects explored to explain the lack of women in STEM careers. These studies included determining how equipped schools are to teach these subjects and found that the lack of collaborative practices in the classroom is a large factor in keeping girls education in Mauritius at its low level in these subjects.

The conclusions from such papers include that while girls education is a priority in Mauritius, STEM-related teachings need to be more predominant and further encourage female participation.

Implementation of New Systems

The Minister of Education and Human Resources of Mauritius recently determined that there would be various new tactics used to encourage education for girls in Mauritius. While the Minister agrees that girls education in Mauritius is improving at a rapid and excellent pace due to the fact that Mauritius is a small country, he concedes that more of a focus needs to be placed on the STEM subjects.

With the Minister of Education focusing so heavily on this, a promotion of STEM-related areas for girls education in Mauritius should expand greatly. This will provide the country with a strong, talented workforce, and further boost the prosperity of Mauritius.

– Kayleigh Mattoon
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Mauritius

After becoming independent from Britain in 1968, the country of Mauritius began a diplomatic relationship with the United States that is still important today. Mauritius, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean, has become one of Africa’s most developed and stable economies, transforming itself from an impoverished country dependent on sugar to a middle-income nation with a diverse economy. Throughout this period of growth and success, the U.S. has been an important partner and has seen great benefits from foreign aid invested in Mauritius. There are three main ways the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Mauritius.

Maritime Security

One of the biggest priorities for U.S. foreign aid in Mauritius is maritime security: keeping the Indian Ocean safe from piracy and crime. Maritime security allows for safer trade routes and prevents terrorism that could potentially spring up in the area.

Mauritius is one of the only countries in the region with a strong program for maritime protection and has been an important player in U.S. efforts to keep the Indian Ocean secure. U.S. foreign aid in Mauritius provides security officers with training that deals with counterterrorism methods, seamanship, forensics and maritime law enforcement. Without such measures in place, shipping and trading on the high seas, which have benefited the U.S. and Mauritius, could be more challenging.

Trade and Economic Growth

Mauritius is an example of how foreign aid is a form of investment. As the U.S. used foreign aid to develop Mauritius’ economy and improve trade relations, more and more U.S. businesses invested in Mauritius and experienced great results. The U.S. and Mauritius have a bilateral trade and investment agreement and are active trading partners.

As one of Africa’s most developed economies, Mauritius has engaged in many trade agreements and embraced free-market opportunities, some of which were only made possible with U.S. foreign assistance. In 2016, for example, the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (funded by USAID) and Mauritius’ Board of Investment signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together in investment promotion activities. The Hub also agreed to help Mauritius take advantage of trading opportunities with the U.S. and incentivize trade in the nation.

Since Mauritius’ has grown to an upper middle-income country and U.S. brands are purchased commonly in this new market, more than 200 companies and products from the U.S. do business in Mauritius. The U.S. exports agricultural and industrial machinery, jewelry and medical instruments to Mauritius and benefits from Mauritius imports such as textiles, precious stones, processed fish and sugar. Bilateral trade between these two countries is currently valued at $337 million.

Diplomacy and Political Stability

An important sector of U.S. foreign assistance is democracy, human rights and governance. Although Mauritius is already a multi-party democracy, foreign aid to Mauritius is still used to secure future democratic peace and stability in Mauritius and throughout Africa. Political stability in Africa is beneficial to the U.S., as unstable African countries that lack strong governments sometimes become havens for terrorism, threatening national security.

One way that foreign aid is used to foster diplomacy with Mauritius is through exchange programs such as the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). This program, started by President Obama in 2010, is an important U.S. effort to invest in future African leaders. The YALI program’s goal is to educate and network young African leaders to work for a peaceful future in Africa.

Since 2010, 66 Mauritians participated in the YALI program in the U.S. and then returned to their country to start new businesses, organizations and programs. There are also Mauritians involved in the YALI Regional Leadership Center in South Africa. These centers act as hubs throughout Africa that enhance leadership skills and teach young people to play important roles in their communities. There are about 1,300 members from Mauritius in the YALI Network, which continually provides online resources for young leaders to learn the skills and connections needed to bring change to their communities and stability to their countries.

These examples demonstrate how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Mauritius and the importance of this partnership both now and in the future.

– Alexandra Eppenauer
Photo: Flickr

development projects in Mauritius
Mauritius is a southern African island country in the Indian Ocean that is famous as a tourist destination. The country is known for its peaceful people comprised of mixed races and multiple languages. Mauritius initially had an agriculture-based economy which the nation diversified into various sectors, including sugar, tourism, textiles and apparel and financial services, transforming it from a lower- to an upper-middle-income economy.

At present, the country is trying to achieve the status of a high-income economy by 2020. In order to reach this goal, various development projects in Mauritius are aiming to create job opportunities, update primary education, generate sustainable energy and improve the infrastructure of the country.

Indian Government Development Projects in Mauritius

In March 2017, India allocated ₨ 12.7 billion for various priority development projects in Mauritius, including the following:

  1. Metro Express Project
    In August 2017, ₨ 9.9 billion was earmarked for the construction of an express metro, which will facilitate transportation between Curepipe and Port Louis, covering a distance of 26 km. The project aims to decrease traffic congestion and save ₨ 4 billion each year. It consists of 19 stations, 6 urban terminals and four interchanges with 18 air-conditioned trains in operation. It is expected to be completed by September 2019.
  2. Early Digital Learning Program
    The project started in 2017 with the aim of supplying digital tablets to students in grades one and two containing digitized study materials. ₨ 500 million has been spent on this program, which includes the cost of hardware, software and training assistance.
  3. Trident Project
    India is providing a fund of $4 million with an additional $52.3 million line of credit for this project. Its aim is to upgrade the maritime and surveillance operations of the Mauritius National Coast Guard to fight against drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean.
  4. Building Projects
    The remainder of the ₨ 12.7 billion is going towards the construction of several new buildings, including ₨ 1.1 billion for a new Supreme Court building in the capital city of Port Louis, ₨ 700 million for construction of social housing units and ₨ 500 million for an up-to-date ENT hospital.

Projects with the African Development Bank

In 2013, the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa granted $1 million for the development of a Deep Ocean Water Application Project in Mauritius. The aim of the project was to install an innovative low carbon seawater air conditioning system.

Mauritius has no oil or natural gas reserves, and so to reduce its energy imports, it has employed this seawater air conditioning system. The system extracts and pumps cold water from the Indian Ocean, which is used to air condition the business district of Saint Louis and its adjacent regions.

This innovative technique has helped to lower the cost of air conditioning systems and reduced carbon emissions by 40,000 tons. It has provided jobs to local engineers and technicians and also created job opportunities in other sectors like aquaculture, pharmaceuticals and bottling.

Mauritius is also looking forward to other development projects in cooperation with India as well as the World Bank, which will help it achieve the status of a high-income developed country.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in MauritiusWith a growing population in recent years, Mauritius’ M2 motorway from BioPark to Port Louis is frequently clogged by traffic. Employees who travel far from home struggle to find parking spaces and walk along unpaved roads. Mauritius’ traditional power supply methods have also played a role in hindering the country’s finances, costing $561 million in 2010 for imported fossil fuel. Improving infrastructure in Mauritius is now key to reducing the country’s annual costs and improving its economy.

In June 2014, the African Development Bank approved a $116.7 million loan to the Mauritius Central Electricity Board for a project intended to redevelop Port Louis’ power plant. The electricity produced by the project’s installations will be distributed to all the corners of Mauritius’ main island, where 97 percent of its population resides. Residents of residential areas, including workers of industrial zones, will benefit from reduced emissions and noises.

Mauritius also has a dwindling water supply due to old pipes and infrastructure. In February 2015, the country’s government revealed plans to renew and replace these pipes and ensure an annual water supply. A new dam will be built at Rivière des Anguilles, improving Mauritius’ water supply in the southern region as well. New water treatment plants will also be constructed at La Nicolière and Bagatelle.

Wastewater infrastructure in Mauritius is also in need of care. The Mauritian government promised to review a program that could ensure a competitive wastewater disposal technology for the environment. The program will also address sanitation problems in the former CHA housing estates and regions that are vulnerable to environmental hazards regarding water disposal.

In March 2016, plans were announced to develop Mauritius’ airport, meaning traffic could increase throughout the country’s roads as well. Construction for an access road to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport began, marking the first major infrastructure project for Mauritius that year. The road would provide a bypass to reduce traffic congestion, enhance road safety in residential areas and offer an alternative route to the airport in case of emergencies.

Nandcoomar Bodha, the Minister of Public Infrastructure and Land Transport, highlighted three guiding principles for the construction work: no cost variations, no delays and high-quality work. Bodha commended the company Omnicane for providing 50 arpents of land to the road project as well. Jacques d’Unienville, Omnicane’s CEO, says the new road has to promote the country because it will be a gateway between Mauritius and visitors from abroad.

Mauritius’ Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth realizes that traffic jams cost the country four billion rupees annually. In September 2017, Mauritius began a $560 million project for a new light rail system that could cut these traffic jams and the country’s business costs. The rail system will connect Curepipe, a central Mauritius town, to the Port Louis capital. Officials say the project’s first stage where Port Louis and Rose Hill are connected is expected to reach completion by September 2019.

Projects for the country’s power source methods, water supply and decreasing traffic will continue to improve infrastructure in Mauritius. The country’s economy will also benefit from reducing the costs of energy expenses and traffic jams. Mauritius’ infrastructure can continue improving so long as more projects are started to help the country’s restructuring process.

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr