Please welcome the guest writer A.A who previously wrote his first article entitled “The 7 ideas to make Mauritius a cyber island“. Without losing any time, here’s what he wrote for this blog:
The budget was held recently and if you have studied the economic and non-economic measures taken by the government, you may reach a conclusion that the budget was not like those we had in the past. Many believe the budget was mainly for the youth. This post will discuss only on the measures taken for the ICT sector.
Price of internet
One of the most debatable matters we have is the price of internet.
In this budget, the minister announced the decrease of the price from Rs349 to Rs200. It is crystal clear that he was talking about the 256Kbps package from Orange! Does this price will change the life of the poor? Maybe yes or not, but do not you think even the government has lowered the price, it remains expensive?
Such a low internet speed package should be around Rs50, no joking, do not forget we are implementing fiber optics and this package is limited in data usage. More than that, the decision to decrease the internet price should be done long time ago, we are very late on it.
Another announced measure is online payment.
Some departments in the public sector will accept payment online such as the NTA, etc. These are good measures, but again, we are late on this aspect compared to other countries! In the same line of thought, digital signatures will be used for online transactions, here again, we are late.
Free tablet for every Form 4 students
Let’s come to the best measure now, the tablet PC for the estimated 20,000 students. No doubt the laptop project has been replaced by it, because the former is more costly.Tablet PC is the next revolutionary technology which will invade our home like mobile phones.
I do not have any issue for these kids to enjoy a tablet PC even they have to pay an insurance fee, but do not you think this is too much? Students are already getting free transports and education, now tablet PC with internet connection; it goes without saying that such a measure will cost us a lot. You think these students will use their tablet PC only to study? No, I bet most of us will be on Facebook or watch porn in class! Instead of giving these tablets, it would be good if they remove VAT on them so that everyone in Mauritius could afford one!
I also noticed that the government is planning to amend the privacy laws for online data storage. Well, I think they are referring to cloud technology, but wait, with the lame internet connection we have, how to make this benefit for all of us? Anyway, I wanted to make something related to cloud technology one day I hope this can help me!
Seriously, I am very sad for our friends in Rodrigues! It is not the first time the government has announced measures which will boost Rodrigues’ ICT sector but in vain. Now, the minister has said fiber optics should reach Rodrigues, will this turn to reality?
And what if, I was the Minister of Finance?
Enough of rants now.
Here are the MAIN measures which I would implement in the budget if I had this opportunity:
- Remove VAT on technologies like tablet PCs, computer hardware and smartphone.
- Encourage people to do projects, give them opportunities to create their own companies, and finance them with a fee of minimum Rs 50, 000 if their projects are worth to support.
- Encourage companies to sponsor people who have a project.
- Facilitate people to enjoy online payments from services like PayPal and so on. As it seems this issue comes from banking regulations or laws, they have to be amended. People can sell stuffs online as many foreigners use payment services.
- Encourage foreign IT companies to invest or establish their department here.
- Encourage more on electronic and electrical engineering, we are late on this! We can manufacture hardware here. Do not under-estimate our guys in electronic. And this does not apply only to degree holders in this field but also to people who have no proper qualification, and know how to deal with electronic stuffs. You must know in Mauritius, you have many persons who repair TVs, radios etc with experience and intelligence. Many of them do not have qualifications in electronic and electrical engineering but they have the potential! If training have to be provided, we should do it.
- Facilitate robotic research and encourage our students to participate in spatial projects!
- Organize competitions in software engineering or any application development. You want to challenge others? Create a software or application; if people like your stuff, you win a prize! The same goes for security, organize ethical hacking events.
- Ameliorate the system of teaching in universities. The students should do more practical projects.
- Encourage new developments like games, 3D design, and much more.
- Abolish 256Kbps internet package, minimum should be 512Kbps unlimited data usage at Rs150. 1Mbps would be Rs200, 2Mbps Rs250, 4Mbps Rs400, and introduce new internet speed packages like 10Mbps and more at lower price. Do not laugh; when reading this, other countries are already in advance on us and it is not a myth!
- The price for International Private Leased Circuits for companies should be decreased by 20%.
- Change the driving license in appearance (design). It should be like a “magnetic strip card” like the current bus pass for students or banking cards. Identity cards also should be like this.
- Rodrigues should have the same benefits as us in developments.
- Remove VAT on software license so that people can buy genuine products. The percentage of piracy software in use must be decreased.
- Encourage Open Source; all the public sectors must have at least 50% of Open Source technologies to reduce costs. If you do not know how to work on Linux for instance, trainings will be provided, else go and sell “gato pima” if you are lame and lazy to learn!
To conclude, this budget has missed the boat, the minister could do more when we are already late!
The concept of Cyber Island will never be achieved if the government does not have the real willpower to do so. As I wrote previously, since the past 10 years, I have been hearing that we will be a Cyber Island, but until today, nothing as concrete measures have been taken to boost the ICT sector!
Do you share the same thoughts as me?
How do you find the announced measures?
First, I prefer to avoid comparing our country to other countries.
Else the rest of the points I really agree with you… Especially empower our people to work in projects. Mais faudait population la li willing et pas ki zot pou kokin encore! It does not entirely depend on the government ena ene bon partie contribution de la population as a whole.
Personally, I think we should compare because we are really in late on internet speed for instance! It is not a question of money, nor a question of technology, but a question of vision and willpower. We had everything 1 decade ago to enhance our ICT sector, but no visions. Seychelles is more advanced than us, and it is poorer than Mauritius. If we did not have the facilities, then I would not compare it. But when poorer countries than us are more advanced, I think we need to compare.
Seychelles maybe yeah. Well not really compare (well compare is a word I really do not like) as such but rather get inspired from the best practices and try to adapt it to our country instead of trying to copy and paste (This is what has been done till now in Mauritius when Mauritius has tried to compare itself to the other big counties which are much older that us). We should also consider their life styles how they have really lived. All this contribute to the current situation. Will Mauritians be able to do it? That’s the question.
I was rather referring to countries like the Europe or Americas, because our country is different. But good you did mention something like Seychelles, which geographically has got almost the same profile as Mauritius.
And one thing is that to be able to achieve it one also needs to be honest and sincere and not corrupt. 🙂 And as you know the status of Mauritius in terms of corruption. Here to change the mindset, you will have to change the people themselves. 😛
“Seychelles, which geographically has got almost the same profile as Mauritius.”
Have you been there?
Even its soil is of granitic origin, while ours is of basalt…
agreed to all points! really, what could we possibly do about it? Petition? didn’t work… Formal letter to ICTA? Formal letter to Minister? I bet The Minister might not be as ‘educated’ in IT as us (developers, power users, professionals), or maybe he is – and surrounded by the right people too – but is waiting to use the ‘good’ measures as a trump card as soon as the general elections are close?
I don’t think the minister knows IT stuffs, even his advisers. Perhaps he uses only email, Microsoft office, Paint and Facebook on his computer.
any solutions ?
Meet the minister LOL.. We can discuss some of the things with him, even perhaps he knows most of them..
let’s do this, it’s the right time, right before the municipals
I am ready to meet the minister himself! But, will he accept to meet us? Will he take us into considerations? We are not the first to give solutions I think!
In this country, there are many people who have ambitions, but cannot turn them into reality!
When I left college there was, maybe some 30 computers in Mauritius. So I’m from a generation that is not much versed in IT. Which explains why I can ask some very stupid questions. Like, Is that epad crap from China what is being referred to as ‘tablet pc’? Can anything powered by Android be called a pc? Is a tablet anything more than a smartphone that you can’t put in your pocket?
It’s not that I’m the type to look down my nose at things. I got one of those tablet things a few weeks ago and after two or three days sent it to keep company to the to-be-sorted-out-papers that entertain my pet cockroaches. It will probably be off to Mare Chicose with the rest of my end of year house ‘gran netoyaz’ trash.
Last year I gave my 7 year old nephew a dual-core pc (to get him and his 4 year old off mine) They get on fine with pc, laptops and smartphones, but not in the least interested in the tablet.
On this tablet pc item- and on a few others, the Finance Minister gives the impression of someone who, back from the bazar has bought more badia than vegetables.
number one as you mentioned should be removing VAT on anything computer from Tablets to laptops to computers and its corresponding accessories
VAT should be removed… I still cannot buy an IPad LOL!
“Change the driving license in appearance (design). It should be like a
“magnetic strip card” like the current bus pass for students or banking
cards. Identity cards also should be like this”
Why not the all-in-one “smart” ID card with all your data on a microchip – like the one already in preparation with the help of Singaporeans…?
I did not know Singapore is going to have a “smart” ID card, but this sounds a good idea. By the way, I have heard the identity card project which was given to Singapore has been cancelled!
Just because kamarad Pol is angry with it…
“If you do not know how to work on Linux for instance, trainings will be provided, else go and sell “gato pima” if you are lame and lazy to learn!”
PAF! (Enn mari kalott enn ta dimounn (ek mo’ssi) inn gagné la)
Mo pé al aprann touzour… mo pé rodd dir: Linux! 🙂
I kind of agree that the budget measures were lackluster, but I could say I am somewhat satisfied, assuming all the measures are implemented. For the sake of discussion, I’ll go over your points again:
— Price of Internet + Free tablet
I agree, it is still high. 256Kbps is very low, especially capped at 3GB. BUT! For many low-income families, this would be satisfactory. Given the choice between no Internet, and low-speed Internet + a free tablet, this could well be the one measure that will increase IT penetration for low-income families. So yes, even if the price remains high for the speed, Rs. 200 should be even better than Rs. 349 for families now. One more push towards affordability.
— Online payments
This one is not so easy. There are tons of laws and frameworks that need to be reviewed, security features to be implemented and certifications to be adhered to. It’s not just telling Paypal to support receiving money (i.e. allow sales) for Mauritius. They have their own reguations that they will have to adhere to, and then again, there are local laws that may be incompatible with their policies. Or they may simply think that Mauritius is too small a market to consider and spend money on. How many people do you think will pay online? Do you think companies would want to invest large sums for this relatively small number of people? There has to be a start, but companies want to make profits and save money. They will not invest unless sure.
— Cloud computing
Yes, even with our slow speed, some cloud services are usable. Slow, but usable. Dropbox is fairly usable. Gmail, Google docs, Skydrive and Youtube are very usable, wouldn’t you say? All of these are cloud services. Some don’t even rely on your connection. You could be using AWS and not have a fast connection. Still cloud computing. Or so it’s called anyway.
Now, for your main measures:
— Remove VAT on technologies like tablet PCs, computer hardware and smartphone.:
Won’t happen. Govt makes good profits on those.
— Encourage people to do projects, give them opportunities to create their own companies, and finance them with a fee of minimum Rs 50, 000 if their projects are worth to support.:
Already done by SMEDA, although it’s not well known.
— Encourage companies to sponsor people who have a project.:
Same as above
— Encourage foreign IT companies to invest or establish their department here.:
Will be done apparently, through the IT leaders scheme introduced in the 2012 budget.
— Encourage more on electronic and electrical engineering, we are late on this!:
Have you seen the rate of failure or re-seat for these subjects at UoM? I think this needs to be fixed first.
— Facilitate robotic research and encourage our students to participate in spatial projects!:
Well, there’s a robotics lab at UoM, but Mauritius is not investing heavily in robotics and automated industries, so why would the government care? To form labour for other countries?
— Organize competitions in software engineering or any application development.:
UoM already does this. Fairly sure the other uni’s do too. Perhaps it could be opened to general public. It’s called “Programming Contest”
— Ameliorate the system of teaching in universities. The students should do more practical projects.:
There, you said it!
— Abolish 256Kbps internet package, minimum should be 512Kbps unlimited data usage at Rs150. 1Mbps would be Rs200, 2Mbps Rs250, 4Mbps Rs400:
Won’t happen any time soon. We don’t have enough international bandwidth to support so many users, as far as I know. Maybe someone from the telco’s can confirm. Also, on ADSL, distance plays a big role. Not everyone can have 4Mbps at good speed. Implying we’d need to roll out fibre. Additional costs. Not sure the Govt is ready for this yet. Perhaps the private operators are.
— Change the driving license in appearance (design).:
I’d say, merge the National ID, Drivers License card and Health Cards into a single one. One ID, everywhere.
— Rodrigues should have the same benefits as us in developments.:
Unrealistic. With less than half our local population?
— Encourage Open Source; all the public sectors must have at least 50% of Open Source technologies to reduce costs. If you do not know how to work on Linux for instance, trainings will be provided, else go and sell “gato pima” if you are lame and lazy to learn!:
Not realistic. Linux is not the solution to everything. What if my company relies on software that runs only on Windows? What if I can’t run software I need to learn on Linux? What if it’s incompatible with my hardware? Open source is good, but it’s not the solution to everything.
There, my comments. Don’t take it badly. Just discussing!
Let me tackle each of your points now! First of all, I don’t know why I should take your opinions badly, of course you have your own views and I respect that.
1/ You are satisfied with the current decrease in price even it is high and you agree with the free tablet PC. As I mentioned, we are late on this. This measure could have been implemented some years ago, particularly for the internet fees. For the Tablet PC, I am not against it totally, but this will cost a lot for government. Sooner or later, the government will increase prices of other commodities to finance the tablet PCs.
2/ For the online payments, I mentioned it, laws or regulations should be reviewed and changed if we have to do. The security measures as well we are late! If you are planning to make the island a cyber one (Which is a dream for me), you must have visions. When you know many things are done online, they could have visions about e-commerce, online payments etc…
3/ Now on cloud computing, yes, dropbox, filedropper, or any online services can be used with our current internet connections. But your point can be largely contradicted. Tell me more how you will upload a 1GB file in size or more with a connection of 256KB or even 512KB and 1MB? Now imagine if you want to upload a file of more than 1GB in size. What about enterprise? You think if a company wants to use cloud technology, it will upload small file in size? Not all companies use high speed internet! Even with the 4MB, it is slow if you want to upload 10GB of backup file for instance! The upload speed is less than the download one do not forget!
4/ I agree with you on this as we get also large amount of money. But they can decrease the prices.
5/ On this, SMEHDA is at fault for not promoting this service widely.
6/ On this one, as far as I know, it is a bit difficult to get sponsors from companies here. But of course, if your project is good and worth, you must get it. This is what I wanted to say.
7/ I hope so.
8/ I am not from UOM, so I don’t know the failure rate. But if this is true, then yes, we should ameliorate the system of education first. And I did propose this on my post. We have to know why the kids are failing. Is this issue from UOM or from the students? We have to tackle it! But is there any person with willpower to do so? We hear often controversies at UOM and UTM mostly on the management!
9/ It is not a matter to form labor for other countries! We can invest in robotics and try to create a technology. It is the reputation and the capability we need. If like this, I can say the same to people who are studying environment studies, biomedical, or any course where jobs are extremely rare here! I can say the same thing to Astrophysicist, Physicist, Astronomer etc… We should not see the matter like this else never we will ameliorate!
10/ These two should be public! Programmers are not only from UOM or UTM. I am myself not a software programmer but this does not mean I cannot participate in events related to programming or security.
11/ Already answered!
12/ Again already answered! We are late on this!
13/ You are saying to merge all in one. Yes, good, but those who don’t have driving license have to change their ID again. For those where the license has been cancelled, will be the same. Anyway, this is not a big deal so we can do it.
14/ For the Rodrigues one, I have not understood you!
15/ I never said to put Linux everywhere! I said 50%. We should rely only on Windows, Windows and Windows too much. Recently, about 7000 windows licenses have been wasted. I am not saying every clerks, administrative officers to stop using Windows or Microsoft Office for Ubuntu or LibreOffice. Administrative guys can use their Windows because it will cost a lot to give them Linux training, however, people who are ALREADY qualified in IT, like system administrators etc..can go for Linux in some sections. For the hardware, if we see we can switch to Open Source why not? If we see, we can drop Windows application to open source, why not? Just because you have used a technology for decades, does not mean we cannot change!
That’s all I want to say…
A typo mistake, I should say we should “Not” rely on Windows too much on the last point…
I have been there. And, sad to have to tell you, we cannot compare with Mauritius, it would be offending them. When we (our authorities) keep whining about economies of scale preventing the implementation of, say, recycling of plastic bottles, they have already started exporting theirs to S. Africa for eliminating their problem. Same as for tourism: since they want a really green eco-tourism concept, they have banned (yes, it’s aquestion of vision and will-power, as rightly said by AA, but also “fiel” and balls to resits the all sorts of lobbies: here we got the taxi-marrons/transpoorr-maléré, beach hawkers, marsan ambilan ki fix, skwatérr ar parabol, etc, etc…) all motor-sports in the lagoon (just imagine: each boat engine leaks about 1g of hydrocarbon per year, if properly maintained), unlike us, where no-one seems to care about the fraud being hammered onto us by the biggest bank with its green-washing concept of “Initiative 114” of building a pseudo-green head-office, but wasting its electricity by keeping coloured lights on at night, and “cerise sur le gateau”, sponsoring a golf competition with hundreds of euros as cash-prize…
Schizophrenia rules in Dodoland, dear Sir. Unlike in Seychelles. And I hope no-one will insult Singapore which is also an island-state…
Well you said it all, hence my first comment, “we better avoid comparing our country against others.” Cause for them to reach to the level we trying to compare, there is a lot of work being done, while our country is still lagging behind. Yeah we can definitely get inspired by the best practices adapting them to our society (which definitely seems next to impossible to be done by the ones in the authority today). Well as i said, for this to happen, we definitely need people who are honest, sincere and who have the balls as u said. Mais bon, it will take some time, but there needs to be a start at least.
Australia is a good example where we can learn from that country. Someone correct me, but I guess, Australia has not been as much impacted by the financial crisis as the European countries have suffered. As for Mauritius, the financial crisis of the European countries causes quite some impact in Mauritius.
Lol, this post is already 2 years old sinceI wrote that. Time flies.. I will tackle something similar for this year again.