Mauritius has historically been associated with two prominent images – a sun kissed paradise island of swaying palms on white sands and the hapless Dodo who could neither fly nor flee the greedy attentions of the Dutch and consequently died out.
What many people don’t realise is that Mauritius is a highly ambitious paradise fuelled by a hunger and drive to boost its economy and up skill its workforce.
In my role as the Institute of Export’s Director General, I was delighted to recently run a series of six seminars covering topical issues on trading internationally. They comprised The Euro and Foreign Currencies; Emerging Markets; Ecommerce & Emarketing; Exporting out of a Recession and How can SME’s Export.
It was tremendous to share the IOE’s experience and knowledge with Mauritian exporters and I was impressed by their commitment and passion to develop and increase their individual and collective role in international trade activity.
When reflecting on their key challenges, in a country of just 1.3 million inhabitants it’s vital that Mauritius differentiates itself from its economic powerhouse neighbours – namely China and India
With this aim in mind, investment in training and education is ongoing at every level – reflecting the country’s commitment to this key area. To make this happen, the Mauritius Human Resource Development Council administers a fund taken from employers across all sectors that adds a government contribution quadrupling the amount available on training or education programmes.
Another positive is the plethora of trade agreements which the island has signed up to. These are COMESA with 20 member countries; SADC with 13 member countries and IOC with 5 member countries.
In addition IOR-ARC has 18 member countries and is in dialogue with China, Egypt, France, Japan and UK who are all keen to sign up. Last, but not least, is AGOA – a Duty Free and Quota Free agreement with the US. This volume reflects the potential of Mauritius can position itself very effectively as the Gateway to Africa.
My presentations were well received and it was a vibrant, non-stop visit from the moment I stepped off the plane. During my time on the island I made four TV appearances and attended a series of meetings with Ministers – culminating in an invitation to the Presidents Garden Party. These great introductions gave me the opportunity to talk about the IOE’s programmes to a very willing and receptive audience.
Dead as a dodo? My experience of the collective will to achieve and succeed reinforced that nothing could be further from the truth.