ICT Investment Key to Mauritius Progress
If other African countries want to escape the middle-income trap like tourists paradise Mauritius, it should invest heavily in information technology and open the market competition to status quo in technology sector. Research in Africa shows that every 15 percent of improvement in Internet penetration can potentially add up to 2 percent to gross domestic product and every doubling of Internet speed adds another 1 percent to a country’s GDP. Unfortunately, few new investments are being made today. Part of the problem lies with the current infrastructure, which is dominated by incumbent 3G players. Having invested heavily, it is natural that these players are keen to protect their market share. But this is holding back the continent. Mauritius, a technologically advanced country, provides Internet access to all its citizens and businesses, helping them drive trade and promote innovation.
In other African countries, however, Internet access costs are among the highest in the world. To join the ranks of advanced countries, Mauritius push for latest connectivity technology, which is more efficient and effective, because better connectivity is the key to becoming a smart economy as the country has come to be known. Information and communications technology contributes more than ten percent to Mauritius’s GDP, but only makes up less than one percent of other African countries GDP with exception of Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana. Mauritius companies, as a result, use the Internet to innovate, promote trade and commerce with as much frequency and success. For Mauritius to move up the economic value adding ladder, the government created the right regulatory environment and opened up the market for new telecommunications and broadband players. It is a political decision for the government to make rather than a purely economic decision. At the heart of the issue is whether the current African countries leaders are willing to bite the bullet and move on or, because of the interests of their shareholders, they hold the continent back.