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Information Technology and Technology Transfer - Mauritius
Helena Langlois


The aim of this Mauritian presentation is to give an overview of some Government, private and NGOs Institutions, that engage in communication or/ and technology transfer either fully or partially.

The condensed information was gathered either from direct verbal sourcing or from available original documentation.

Wherever possible the style of presentation of the various mission statements, objectives and activities of the selected institutions and organisations was used to describe the diversified approaches applied in our country's collaborative efforts, to face the third millennium globalisation and trade liberalisation challenges.

Government ministries and institutions engaged in IT

The Government of Mauritius has been a major force and a facilitator for the promotion of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises through policy-making and the creation of specialised institutions. Furthermore Government has also established several funding schemes and trusts which private and NGO sectors can also benefit from to encourage and promote SMEs.

The Mauritius Telecom has responded to the ever-evolving and increasingly sophisticated demand for telecommunication services in Mauritius by establishing a strategic alliance and setting up Telecom Plus Ltd. with the main objective of providing value-added

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telecommunication services to support the development of basic networks in Mauritius. Witnessing a rapid growth since its inception, Telecom Plus is presently expanding its scope and offering its services well beyond the frontiers of Mauritius.

The National Computer Board was founded in 1988 and falls under the Ministry of High Technology. The NCB has a conference room for hosting seminars and workshops and provides also a Documentation Centre that also aids SMEs with IT advice. Furthermore the NCB also provides free advice and hosts several WEB sites for Government Departments and Institutions.

The Mauritius College of the Air produces and runs multi-media programmes that spread technological information on Radio, T.V. and schools. Their productions are of high educational value also for SMEs, in view of their diversified didactic approach. They also run "Distance Learning" programmes.

The University of Mauritius also carries out courses in High Technology, Textile Fibers and High Technology Design that benefit SMEs. Lately they organised a special seminar/workshop on IT together with MACOSS.

The Research Council engages in technology transfer. It has set up schemes for research grants for scientific projects of specific nation-wide interest.

Private sector institutions that have IT oriented activities

MSIRI founded in 1953 is a research institute mainly for sugar cane. It engages in extension services for the agricultural development of small, medium and large planters, and also for vegetables growers for market consumption. Lately, they have been able to create for the first time four varieties of potatoes. Recently it introduced high technology computerised controlled irrigation.

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PROSI founded in 1968 is the Public Relations Office of the sugar industry. Its Director edits the PROSI scientific agricultural magazine, which is uploaded every month on the Internet for technology diffusion.

The Mauritius Employer's Federation runs schemes to promote small and medium entrepreneurs and published a book with ILO on ways to improve business.

NGOs with an IT commitment

Being part of the informal flexible sector, NGOs are in spite of their financial constraints more flexible to respond to socio-economic needs, as they engage more on open field activities and often reach out to remote poor areas.

NGO SPES that has 31 years of experience on small and medium entrepreneurial vocational training was selected as a model to illustrate Mauritian technology transfer at appropriate basic, intermediate and high-tech levels.

The NGO Alliance of Women is an umbrella organisation that has helped to develop the entrepreneurial spirit among its vast number of members. It has recently engaged with SARDC for the SADC Region in the scientific production of a book entitled BEYOND INEQUALITIES, which contains research data that will form part of a combined regional publication, which SMEs will find useful across borders.

MACOSS in an umbrella organisation that covers over 100 groups/NGOs of multi-functions, some of which engage fully or partly in entrepreneurship activities socio-economic value.

MACOSS with UNDP financial aid carried out a "High-tech Communication Project" and provided modems to 30 NGOs, spreading computer literacy, and this resulted in better NGOs management and useful cost-effective linkages. Some of the seminars

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and workshops for technology transfer that MACOSS ran lately are as follows: management courses, project writing and appraisal, leadership course for NGOs.


NGO SPES (Société pour la Promotion des Entreprises Spécialisées) was founded in 1967 by a group of professionals, who realised the great need to create employment for early young school leavers, through the promotion of handcrafts and cottage industries, taking into consideration the welfare of artists, artisans and environmental conditions.

Throughout the years the administration of SPES has remained voluntary and the management has continued aiming at introducing new skills and technologies to promote creative and productive entrepreneurship.

Bearing in mind the human capital resources, basic skills were used at first to encourage the use of local materials and recycling, and different specialised training production workshops were created in fields with market and trade value.

High-Tec orientation

In 1981 SPES started utilising computerised photographic equipment to improve the output and quality work of its silk-screening workshop and gradually it became computer oriented.

A few years later, realising the importance of added value and the need to increase production and design innovation, SPES launched in 1989 a CAD and partial CAD 1 CAM UNIT, the first on the Island, to carry out open training to entrepreneurs on diversified textile fields, such as weaving, knitting and embroidery. It runs programmes suitable for both, hand and machine work applications.

This High-Tec Unit has been of great benefit to the various rural production workshops, that SPES still runs to create employment and

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also to raise funds for continued "in house training" and crafts research.

In fact, the SPES High-Tec training has also contributed to spreading information technology to many small and medium entrepreneurs and even to large industries, which often participate at the specialised SPES seminars/workshops.

The SPES High-Tec Unit also provides 3D training and Services for pottery and woodwork, and has developed regional and international contacts and technology exchanges through this high-tech approach.

Advanced training methodologies

Recently, SPES set up an Electronic Library especially for its new National Academy Project for Training Vocational Teachers to reach out to grassroot levels in excluded and poor areas. The aim is to equalise access to vocational training especially for needy teenagers.

The SPES special tailor-made design teacher academic programme includes advanced pedagogical methods to improve literacy through multi-media, combined with creative crafts training courses, appropriate for young school drop-outs. It includes "fun-learning" with text, image and sound as well as practical crafts work, and also encourages the growth of natural fibers and easy agro-planting and food processing.

Several MACOSS NGOs and some Government social centres as well as SMEs, will also benefit nation-wide from the SPES interactive system as it is IT-based. It provides an Intranet to operate and facilitate in 60 centres an extended classroom/workshop system, to develop entrepreneurship potential from early age.

Furthermore, this SPES Academy has been designed with a regional orientation and is suitable to facilitate SEPAC/SADC technological transfer in English, French and Portuguese.

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Quality training

In the last few years designers trained by SPES have had the honour of receiving many international design and quality awards in the lines of straw-work, textile, fashion designer products and pottery, and this is due to its close design collaboration with small and medium entrepreneurs.

Specialised cybercafé sessions

Realising the importance of multi-media use, SPES has of late organised innovative/cultural/educational/vocational cybercafé sessions for small and medium entrepreneurs, and this has been a successful enriching experience for all, as this activity was extended to small entrepreneurs. Considerable preparatory research has to be carried out for each specialised cybercafé monitored session. But it seems of great capital investment to make use of information technology transfer to develop human resources.

A dual CD-ROM, for Mac and PC, will be produced by SPES with added details on interactive technology transfer, for those who are interested, but do not yet have Internet facilities.

SPES invites you all to visit its Web site launched in November 1996, which has monthly updates.

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Cyber Directory

Ministry of Communications and Information Technology

http://ncb. intnet.mu/mtit.htm



Small and Medium Industries
Development Organisation


Mauritius Export Processing
Zone Association


Industrial & Vocational Training


Mauritius Chamber of
Commerce and Industry


University of Mauritius http://www.uom.ac.mu

Public Relations Office of the
Sugar Industry (PROSI) http://prosi.intnet.mu/

Women Entrepreneurship Unit http://ncb.intnet.mu/mwfw/entrepen.htm



Export Processing Zone
Development Authority


SPES/US Info Service http://usis.intnet.mu/gallerv.htm

Mauritius Export Development & Investment Authority (MEDIA) http://ncb.intnet.mu/media

SPES/SEPAC/ITC Link http://www3.itu.int/virtexh/oth
links .htm

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Dezember 1999

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