Minister from Mauritius: what are you Estonians waiting for?

Aivar Pau
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Photo: Eero Vabamägi / Postimees

For years, there is a minister responsible for communication and technology in the island state of Mauritius. In Tallinn this week, Etienne Sinatambou challenged us to team up and take the African IT-market. Together. 

«For Africa, Mauritius is like Estonia for Europe. Estonia desires to be and probably is Europe’s IT-state No 1. Mauritius, in its turn, places first in almost each African index,» Etienne Sinatambou told Postimees.

Globally, they have risen 25 percent over these past five years, and continue to lead in Africa. With cyber security, they rank a whopping 9th in the world, say UN data.

«I am sure Estonia and Mauritius might be excellent partners to enter the African IT-market. Mauritius has lots of advantages to offer to Estonian IT-firms. For one, we are member of lots of African economic blocks, and doing business with them we are exempt from excessive taxation – this is free trade. What are you waiting for?!» he wondered.

How come a minister is here from so far away? Firstly, since last September Mauritius is in cooperation with Estonia e-Governance Academy, to create a like institution at home. Now, they came to see how things are going.  

Secondly, within a IT-week underway here, the delegation wants to show that Mauritius is far from the danger spot that African states tend to be seen as: political instability, corruption, violence.

«let me tell you, none of that goes for Mauritius. We are a most stable state in Africa politically; for years, we have the most transparent governance on the continent, and thirdly we are a multicultural society where various groups are dwelling side by side for decades, in peace,» said the minister.

Of their population, 48 percent are Hindus, 33 percent are Christians, and 17 percent Muslims. «We respect all gods,» said the minister.

Based on all that, the minister wishes to show Estonian IT-community that a starting platform to compete in all of Africa is a potential with Mauritius.

He said that Mauritius has long realised the main idea of e-state is to better serve its people – the politicians having been elected to boost speed and quality of services, and to that end the creation of the services has been paid for.

«E-services make the system cheaper, more transparent, faster. When used right, people’s life will get better and the public services more useful,» said the minister.

Like Estonia, Mauritius is just about ready with nationwide base optical lines network for ultrafast internet. For Mauritius, the aim is to get is completed by end of next year. Estonia’s – in 2020.

Last week, the island state achieved internet speed of 100 mbit/s while all schools are connected to 10 Mbit/s internet network. It is all based on the state connected to mainland by two fibre-optic cables.

«At last, our smallness is to our advantage, also before you. You have 1.3 million people living on 45,000 square kilometres; we have 1.2 million living on less than 2,000 square kilometres. Therefore, taking optical lines to every home is much easier,» said Mr Sinatambou.

He said 95 percent of Mauritians do their taxes online. Meanwhile, IT-sector makes for 6.4 percent of GDP. Also, Mauritius is known as a world class tourism spot. Last year, it was voted the best honeymoon resort on the planet.