Cirné the island which was named by a Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas in 1510 was later renamed Maurice by the Dutch in 1598 who claimed the uninhabited island and renamed it after their head of state, Maurice, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau. Mauritius, an Indian Ocean Island today has an estimated population of 1.3 Million and a GDP of US $13.34 Billion according to World Bank.
Ranked as the Most competitive country in Africa with a score of 63.7 on the latest Global Competitiveness Index, Mauritius is one of the two countries that has an index above the Global Median score of 60 and South Africa (60.8).
In 2017 the country attracted 1.34 Million tourists surpassing its own population making the service sector the largest revenue source with an average of 74% contribution to the GDP. The Island measuring 2,040 km2 is rich in scenic beauty and fringed by beaches with white sand and turquoise coloured clear ocean waters, Mauritius is a Tourist haven. The Seven Coloured Earths are a geological formation and prominent tourist attraction found in the Chamarel plain of the Rivière Noire District in south-western Mauritius. It is a relatively small area of sand dunes comprising sand of seven distinct colours that has attracted multitude of tourists to have an up-close look at this beauty.
Mauritius is well known for a sound and robust financial sector and financial systems which have influenced the influx of wealthy individuals to Mauritius’ shores over the past 10 years. The most densely populated country in Africa has managed over the past few years to diversify its economy from being Agri-based to become a multi-faceted economy enjoying revenue from manufacturing, tourism and financial services. The once major net exporter of sugarcane is slowly becoming Africa’s Financial Hub and has proven to be a key player in attracting offshore investments which plays a huge role in Africa’s growth and Development. Mauritius remains the leader in the Ease of Doing Business Rankings in Africa and progressed from 25th to 20th place worldwide among 190 countries surveyed by the World Bank in 2019.
How is it that Madagascar, the 51st-largest country in the world by population (24,894,551, based on estimates published by the United Nations) which is only approximately 1132 km from Mauritius remains one of the poorest country in the world regardless of population and size when Mauritius its cousin Island (158th largest) remains the most competitive country in Africa ranking 3rd in Development from South Africa and Seychelles. Lessons can be drawn from the two countries and empirical evidence shows us that Growth and Development fundamentals are ensured by good Governance and control of the Political and Business Environment. The leaders in Africa must encourage Public-Private Partnerships as they promote proactive policies which ensure that a good business environment exists that harnesses the Private and Public sectors to contribute and work together to develop the countries and eventually the Continent.
Mauritius has succeeded in unifying the Public and Private sectors as we can see policy makers making policies that enables the participation of the two sectors of the economy working together creating a strong Economy that allows and is friendly to different kind of investors. Currently one can buy a can of Coke at 36.76 Rs (R15.03), and a Litre of Petrol 47.91 Rs (R19.60), generally good and services in Mauritius are expensive as the country is a tourist destination.
When we realise that Mauritius is approximately the size of the Western Cape Province in South Africa, you will then understand that this nation truly fights above its weight in the economy. Although known for its stunning beaches, tourism attraction, fishing and water sports, slowly but surely this island is taking the shape of a true African Dubai. So, Africa must realise truly that “Size does not Matter “!