The 50th anniversary of an independent Mauritius marks a significant milestone for the country. A nation which for so many centuries functioned as the exploitative playground of European colonisers, reaches its 50th year of surmounting this tumultuous history. The land’s rich sugar holdings and its geographical location, which made it a pivotal trading route by providing a gateway between Africa and Asia, had attracted the attention of European powers. Successfully colonised by the Dutch, French and British from the 16th century up to independence in the 20th century, the little island endured a succession of extractive economies, coupled with slavery and indentured labour forces.
As a result, Mauritius, as with many countries across Africa that suffered from the blows which were dealt by their colonial past, was not poised to succeed. Hundreds of years of abuse by major powers, alongside inherent geographical afflictions, had left the island underdeveloped and therefore hugely susceptible to an unstable future. Indeed, seven years prior to independence, the Nobel Prize winning British economist James Edward Meade had predicted a poor future of development for Mauritius. Meade cited a number of factors including a lack of industrial diversity, haphazard weather conditions and an ever-growing population, amongst many others.
Today, Mauritius is one of Africa’s most prosperous nations. Throughout critical stages of independence, between 1977 and 2008, GDP growth averaged at around 4.6%, with 2017 averaging 3.9%. Contrary to Meade’s predictions, Mauritius expanded beyond sugar production, developing sustainable textile, tourist, healthcare and oceanic industries. Presently, advanced IT and energy technologies, as well as knowledge-based industries, are being developed at a steady rate.
Mauritius Times - Kannen Ramsamy | March 11, 2018