Can Mauritius become the first ‘cybernation’?

Surfing the Intenet in Mauritius Copyright: ADB Networks Ltd

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The economy of Mauritius, a small island nation off the east coast of Africa, has relied largely on making textiles and producing sugar from its numerous cane fields. But global competition in these markets is fierce and the country’s revenue from these activities is falling.

Now, reports Laurie Goering, the island wants to become the world’s first ‘cybernation’, a high-tech communications hub with countrywide broadband Internet access, that will host call centres, remote data backup facilities, and software development companies. An undersea broadband cable already gives it fast Internet and phone links with Africa, Europe, India and Malaysia.

By doing this, Mauritius hopes to boost its economy by creating new jobs and attracting wealth. As well as encouraging all its citizens — from housewives to farmers — to become computer-literate by taking basic evening classes, the government has also built the first of three technology parks.

But, reports Goering, the Mauritian government’s reluctance to encourage competition — because it earns a large share of profits from the company with the monopoly on the island’s communication lines — could get in the way of its ambitions.

Link to full Chicago Tribune article