While reading the Budget speech for 2014, I felt that there is a confusion between ICT and BPO in Mauritius.
According to Wikipedia, Information and communications technology (ICT) is a term that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals), computers as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audio-visual systems, which enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.
Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a subset of outsourcing that involves the contracting of the operations and responsibilities of specific business functions (or processes) to a third-party service provider. BPO has nothing to do with ICT!
According to the Minister, the BPO/ICT sector represents 6.4 percent of GDP and provides employment to 18,800 people. But what is the breakdown between ICT and BPO? Are we, as a country, really embarking on the ICT revolution? Or merely creating low-level jobs in BPO?
(1) The tariffs for International Private Lease Circuits (e.g. a private line between a headquarter in Europe and a branch in Mauritius) will be reduced by 16% from January 2014. This is good in general for foreign companies having offices in Mauritius. But what about Mauritian IT startups? There could have been special packages for them. Right now, startups of two kids in a garage in Mauritius pay the same as an established company. There is something to be done at this level.
(2) 50000 houses in 2014 will be connected through fiber to the Internet. The Minister has mentioned 30Mbytes/s. Is that really feasible given that 30Mbytes/s represents an Internet 250 times faster than the one we have today? Is this a typo and that he meant 30 Mbit/s? What would be the price?
(3) ISPs will have to guarantee a minimum service level for a given Internet package. What will be the definition of a service level? Is this a minimum bandwidth? Availability of connection? Other services like technical support? How is the ICTA going to monitor this?
(4) There will be a second incubator in 2014 in Port-Louis to develop talent in IT. Who will be the mentors? With what facilities? Buildings and computers only do not make startups!
(5) The Minister also announced an HSC Pro in ICT. Who will design the course content / programme / syllabus? It should not be left to people who are only academics and have no idea of the real requirements of the job market.
(6) Finally, the Minister announced eight additional national scholarships for ICT but didn’t say where these students will be sent.
ICT is revolutionizing every industry : medicine, entertainment, education, finance, etc. It seems to me that, as quite a lot of policy makers make a confusion between ICT and BPO, there is a risk that we miss this revolution. Why don’t we have in the budget major policy decisions (and financing plans) to make Mauritius join the ICT revolution?
ICT is not only about having smartphones in every pockets. It’s about exploring and conquering new avenues for development and wealth creation.
Let’s do things together! In ICT!
I’m tempted to say ‘careful what you say’ cause apparently you can get arrested and denied bail on a whim these days here.
You’re right on all accounts.
Point no. 2: If I had a penny for every time someone used byte instead of bit…
So often I hear some woman saying NASA instead of NSA when describing recent events too… I mean one time’s a mistake, more is just laziness..
” ISPs will have to guarantee a minimum service level for a given Internet package”
That’s a real joke. MT dances around the ICTA and the government as if they never mattered. We’re supposed to get half price internet, instead they give you ‘twice as fast’ internet for the same price. Of course everyone knows what happens when you multiply 0 by 2
Monitoring of internet quality? I’ll believe it when I see it. There’s so much throttling going on + huge contention ratios that anyone not on 4Mbps in a dense residential area will be getting sub dial up speeds between 17h-23h. There’s massive proof that this has NOTHING to do with distance or saturation or remote servers.
It’s like buying a 2000cc car and being delivered a 50cc motorbike. MT gets away with it everyday scoff free.
Moreover what is up with our abysmal upstream of 0.2Mbps or if you’re lucky to have ‘la fibre’ 1Mbps?? What it looks like is that MT and other ISP’s want to push forward their IPTV services. Should they offer attractive business/residential packages with high upstream bandwidth then they’d have too much competition.
Netflix and other services would’ve never existed if it had originated from Mauritius.
It is indeed a sad fact that there seems to be a lot confusion about ICT in the minds of policy makers. Just by promoting the name “cyber island” and “cyber village” means nothing, our country is far from becoming one. In 2013, I wonder how many countries still don’t have private television which broadcast information. Nowadays, the trend is more towards webtv, iptv…and yet our policy makers are still skeptical about private television. Are we gonna be the last one to have private television, just like among the last ones to be able to ever receive money on paypal, be able to sell an application on play store…if ever we are gonna have this priviledge, we are obliged to keep on hoping, one day, maybe one day…
“There will be a second incubator”…Does providing an office/work space with internet access at relatively low cost (if we measure the space one effectively has per square meter, i have some doubts whether its cheaper) is really an incubator. In my opinion, the model the incubator is following is a bit outdated, ofcourse its a copied one. A bad copy, in my opinion. Not everyone with a start up idea can join in, first the idea has to be approved by its board. Only if your idea/project is sound/innovative enough according to them since they have the expertise to do so, you may join in. History has too many times showed us how the so-called established failed to see the potential behind start up ideas (those who want to know more, movies like “Pirates of sillicon valley” may help). In short, I am not against the idea of incubator, I am only saying it could have been a lot better.
On a last point, it is worthy to note that the government will be giving free simple websites to SME…we have about 80,000 SMEs in Mauritius, putting a more realistic figure of 50,000 x Rs3,000 (amount given by the government for the free website), but the downside is that these website shall be implemented by the incubators. Now, after simple reflection, while it may be good thing, if not a jackpot for those in the incubators, it also unfair towards the companies/freelancers outsides the incubator. Will the start ups will have suffcient time and resources to devote to the creation of these websites, would they not deviate from their intial project unless their project were the website buisiness itself. As far as I know, the incubator was making an effort to pick up non-conflicting, non-similar projects, i.e if they have already selected someone to make product A, chances are you wont be selected if you are also making product A.
Let us for the better, only time can tell 😉