Sunday, July 31, 2005

The No.1 economic sector of Mauritius
Few of us have to worry about Mauritius. As seen in elections, most of us worry about our own standard of living, or about our privileges and rights.

But somewhere we should all worry if Mauritius is going broke. It does not matter if one party has more money than the other, if, for instance, Mauritius keeps importing more than it exports. Obviously all the wealth will drain away to foreign land.

Given that the sugar industry has worn itself out, and so has the textile industry, can you name anything else which can become the No 1 economic sector of Mauritius? I have tried this question on my friends - it would seem that the answer is not so obvious.

Is it tourism ? No. Is it the cybercity ? No. Is it small and medium enterprises ? No.

If you are not getting the answer right it is probably because you are considering Mauritius to be just land, forgetting about the huge extent of our territorial waters. With the other islands forming part of the Republic of Mauritius, we have a vast area of sea - or should I say, a vast volume of sea - as resource. The Ministry of Fisheries has always been considered as a "small ministry", whereas it ought to be a major ministry, with a large operating budget. Students come from overseas to learn and make research at the MSIRI. We would need to have universities on the coast, studying oceanography, fishing, and - why not - ship building. Most Mauritians should have been able to ride boats. Facilities ought to exist at selected points for anybody to go and rent a boat. Just as there are road marks and traffic lights, we ought to have plenty of those at sea, so that swimmers do not get hit by boats. Did you notice that the export of textile is going down, while that of seafood and pearls from the sea is going up ?

"I am a sea, but who will dive into its depths? The scatter or the flow is all they see who settle on my shore" - Iqbal.

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