Over the next five years, Industrial Development, Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) and Cooperatives will be a key component in transforming Mauritius into a modern, eco-friendly place to live in and do business.
This was the gist of the speech by the Minister of Industrial Development, Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, on 14 February 2020 at the National Assembly, during the debate on the Government Programme 2020-2024: towards an inclusive, high income and green Mauritius - Forging ahead together.
The Minister recalled that Vision 2030 acknowledged the critical importance of industrial development in terms of wealth creation and employment generation and mentioned that as at now, manufacturing activities account for 12.9% of GDP and around 17% of total employment. Some 240 Export Oriented Enterprises are in operation, contributing to 90% of all domestic exports, while 360 other large domestic enterprises are producing principally for the local market as a response to import substitution, he added.
On the exports side, Mr Bholah underlined that Mauritius is an established sourcing destination for a range of products comprising wearing apparel, textile yarn & fabrics, fish preparation, medical devices, watches & clocks, chemicals and related products, amongst others. Government, he stated, is fully determined to safeguard the interests of our Export Oriented Enterprises, as these contribute immensely in terms of value addition, employment generation as well as foreign exchange earnings.
He highlighted that the Economic Development Board (EDB) is helping in the elaboration of export and investment promotion strategies for greater market diversification and broadening of the manufacturing base. Furthermore, Minister Bholah added that his Ministry is closely monitoring the implementation of the National Export Strategy (2017-2021) to boost domestic exports.
As regards business facilitation, the Minister pointed out that the Mauritius Standards Bureau has stepped up its efforts to promote standardisation and conformity assessment services among local economic operators so as to unlock new markets, and sharpen their competitiveness in the global market.
In a bid to boost the manufacturing sector, Minister Bholah highlighted that the Government Programme emphasises the adoption of technologies associated with Industry 4.0 such as automation, digitalisation and artificial intelligence which are all set to bring a radical transformation in the manufacturing landscape. This, he added, implies that the traditional methods of production and the way of doing business have to be fundamentally revisited and manufacturers as well as service providers must move on to Intelligent Production powered by Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and cloud technology.
Government, the Minister stated, is committed to the adoption of energy efficiency technologies, promotion of recycling activities, minimisation of industrial waste and compliance with environmental certification in order to promote greener production practices for an eco-friendly system. In this context, the Mauritius Standards Bureau is collaborating with the regulatory authority to identify Guidelines and Standards for Renewable Energy with a view to implementing Renewable Energy standards.
SMEs and Cooperatives
To remain at the forefront of Innovation, Minister Bholah stated that his Ministry, in collaboration with SME Mauritius has embarked in the development of an Innovation Park at Coromandel which will initially host three lab/studios for pattern-making and prototype production facilities, digital design and printing of jewelry prototypes. The third studio will be a fabrication laboratory with state-of-the-art technology to tailor customised products, he added.
In a bid to contribute towards fulfilling Government's long term energy strategy, SME Mauritius has been providing a Solar PhotoVoltaic (PV) Rebate Scheme which aims at offering SMEs the opportunity to produce electricity using solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, the Minister underlined. In the same vein, he added that his Ministry is also looking into the possibility of setting an eco-industrial SME Park which will be leased on a long-term basis at affordable costs for the development of a recycling industry in Mauritius.
As regards the Cooperatives Sector, the Minister recalled that there are more than 700 active cooperative societies engaged in 40 different types of socio-economic activities and, as per the Government Programme, cooperatives will be encouraged to enter new sectors such as green energy. In this context, the Minister announced that, under the PV scheme for Cooperatives, installation of solar PV systems is being made for some 20 cooperatives free-of-charge and will continue along these lines and possibilities for more cooperatives to produce solar energy will be explored.