#50ansMoris: Imagining Mauritius in 2068, The triumph of hope ?

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In 50 years’ time, technology will have erased the physical boundaries of classrooms, with students and teachers redefining the concepts of education.

In 50 years’ time, technology will have erased the physical boundaries of classrooms, with students and teachers redefining the concepts of education.

(Part 1)

Change at breakneck speed as a constant

Looking back is much easier than envisioning the future, even with crystal ball gazing. It is an imperfect science as it is not obvious to see what is coming before it actually happens. As a result, making predictions becomes a hazardous business as by definition, they will blend reality with fantasy as the outcomes depend largely on a combination of known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns.

However one thing seems certain. From economics, politics and society to science, technology and innovation, from infrastructure, transportation and environment to human behaviour, demographics and health, from education, art and culture to patterns of production and consumption and sport, Mauritius will be very different by 2068.

Just recall the significant changes witnessed since 1968. While it is difficult to visualise the future with accuracy, it is unlikely to be a mere extrapolation of the past. Because the astonishing pace of transformation will not abate in the next 50 years. There will be profound changes coming to our lives, from what we will eat, wear and do during our leisure time to how we work, travel, access infromation, interact with others. There will also be massive disruptions in many sectors such as health care, education, banking, energy, manufacturing, entertainment, real estate and much more.

Where will Mauritius be in the next 50 years? This question is important as we should reflect on the future we want to leave to the next generation and identify decisions required to give the best outcome to our fellow citizens.

What are the main drivers of change and what are their consequences going forward? Crucially, it depends on strategic policy choices adopted to enable the nation to unleash its full potential and on how we invest in people, technology, infrastructure, environment, institutions and society to seize the vast opportunities and overcome the challenges.

A dynamic and structurally transformed economy

We will have a diversified, globally competitive and resilient economy with around ten strong pillars that hardly reflect the current architecture. Our GDP per capita is close to US$ 100 000 and we have graduated to first world economic status. The composition of output will be different with skills, training, innovation, knowledge, robotics, artificial intelligence, intangibles, and higher value-added goods and services accounting for a high share of GDP. Product, labour and capital markets will be more flexible to adapt to the fast changes while the economy is very open to international trade in goods and services, capital, ideas, talents and technology.

Even if Europe remains an important client and a source of tourists, our main trading partners are China, India and Africa and it mirrors the changing gravity of the international economic landscape. Mauritius is a key player in a very large trade and economic space, stretching from Cairo to Cape Town and from Maputo to Casablanca with huge movement of goods, services, capital, technology and people. Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are the breadbaskets for most of our food requirements, some produced by Mauritian entities in these countries. Global and regional value chains dominate production. There are daily flights to major cities in many African and Asian countries to bring business, tourists and freight to our shores. Maritime and digital connectivities have improved markedly, thus sharpening our export competitiveness.

The ocean economy is firing on all cylinders, ushering in a new area of manufacturing activities with significant foreign direct investment, high number of valuable jobs, substantial foreign exchange earnings and considerable supply chain integrations. We are adding values to the precious metals and minerals found in our exclusive economic zone and are generating environmentally friendly energy from the ocean. Renewable energy, biotechnology, the knowledge industry and 3D printed production are thriving. And we have leveraged our geographical position to emerge as the region’s leading centre for international financial services, a hub for research and innovation in ocean exploration and a major transportation and logistics platform.

An era of fair, progressive politics 3 and full gender equality

Politically, there will be major transformations. With reforms, the electoral system is fairer and it promotes nationhood and fosters inclusion. The Prime Minister is a young, single parent woman of mixed marriage while 50 per cent of MPs and Cabinet Ministers are female. Equally, more women will have access to the halls of power as they will be in senior roles across every industry, including Board members, CEOs and CFOs in top companies. With enhanced facilities and technology, women will no longer have to choose between career success and having a family. Men and women will perform an equal share of childcare and housework.

As glass ceilings are dismantled and women’s full potential harnessed, gender equality will improve both the economy and society and the country will be stronger. We are recruiting Ministers from a much larger talent pool based on their skills, experience and knowledge in their respective fields. Parliament is a true forum for debates and ideas on how to make Mauritius a better place and not a rubber stamp of the executive and there is term limit to foster new ideas, talents and freshness in politics. There is more decentralisation in decision-making and the population has greater participation in the nation’s affairs through regular consultations on key issues.

E-voting will be the norm as we use the latest technology to cast our vote from the comfort of our home. We have reformed our political, economic and social institutions to make them more efficient, inclusive and conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship. There is better governance and our key institutions are not only stronger but also more independent, transparent, and accountable. There is better understanding and cohesion among politics, business, labour and civil society with many broad based employees’ ownership schemes, meaningful profit-sharing and citizens’ funds for workers and the wider public to reap the benefits of the digital and the intangible economy and to lower economic inequality.

Shared prosperity and empowered youth

Socially, it is a period of significant human development achievements that ranks us as a high income country with tremendous advancements in health, science, technology, education, and energy. Growth is inclusive while wealth and prosperity are shared, leading to improved social outcomes. Absolute poverty is history while technology, competitiveness, productivity, efficiency, innovation, diversification and investment in human capital, quality infrastructure, help us support the rising costs of health, pensions and other social services. Greater openness to foreigners, a forward looking immigration policy, incentives to attract the Mauritian diaspora back home and a higher participation rate of women in the labour force (and may be reversing the declining fertility rate) will address the acute labour shortage resulting from a declining and an ageing population. We have equipped our youth with the new tools, technology, knowledge, skills and social intelligence to navigate a new world of work and thrive in a fast changing world. As they become agile and adaptable, and understand how humans and machines can complement each other, they can better face the challenges posed by automation and robotics.

New industries, new services and new jobs will be unlocked. As a result, most people displaced by automation will find other employment. We are thus in a position to reap the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution. Our unlucky compatriots made redundant by artificial intelligence and machine learning will draw a universal basic livable income to ensure that nobody loses out in the transformation.

Effective broadening of the circle of opportunities

The traditional boundary between home and school will disappear while teachers and students will not be confined to classrooms, nor to countries that can afford them. We have one single labour market with no distinction between the private and the public sectors, leading to enhanced efficiency in the delivery of public services and greater social cohesion.

There is more economic and business space for our children, with the separation of ownership from control and management. The circle of opportunities is broadened with recruitment in all sectors driven by an open, transparent and merit based system and access to finance, capital and resources not dependent on who you are and where you come from. Companies are big because they are good and not good because they are big. With inclusive growth and shared prosperity, crime is lower while the drug scourge has been curbed.

La une du 23 fevrier 1968

C’est la fête aux lauréats, il y a 50 ans, comme c’est le cas aujourd’hui aussi. Également dans l’actu, un début de contrôle démographique, avec 3 318 naissances en moins.

Photo du jour

Il y a 50 ans, les lauréats de 1967 affichent leur promesse de retour, comme Yoong Hin Ah Mew, du collège St Joseph. Une procession en son honneur bloque le trafic à Curepipe. Les articles sur les lauréats se retrouvent dans trois pages sur quatre du journal. «Ils reviendront donc. Tous. Car ils savent où est leur place dans la dynamique socio-économique mauricienne», écrit «l’express».

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