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Mauritius Liberalises Internet Services, Overhauls Telecoms Industry

Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

14 November 2000

Last week Information Technology and Telecommunications Minister Pradeep Jeeha announced the liberalisation of Internet provider services in Mauritius.

Speaking at the opening of Infotech 2000, an exhibition of new technologies taking place in the island's capital, Port Louis, Mr Jeeha said Mauritius is preparing itself for a digital future and needs to compete on a 'level playing field' in data and value added services: 'IPS providers will be encouraged to compete on service rather than on subscription payments which are clear barriers to access ... we are aware that connectivity and interconnectivity will play a major role in our future development,' he said.

The Minister said that the government aimed to increase access to the Internet with the 'ultimate goal' of enabling easy access by the year 2005 from 'the home, the school, the workplace and convenient public access points. The Internet will be as ubiquitous and normal as electricity is today' he claimed.

Furthermore, declared Mr Jeeha, the government is set to introduce Internet roaming facilities in Mauritius. He said: 'Business travelling from and to Mauritius as well as tourists visiting our island will now be able to access the Internet without the need for making costly long distance calls to their country. Internet roamers will, in fact, log into a local access number all over the world with one and the same account and will enjoy seamless connection as if they were in their own countries.'

The Mauritius government certainly means business when it comes to improving the country's telecommunications infrastructure. Just one day after Mr Jeeha's announcement, the government declared that Mauritius and France Telecom had signed an agreement by which the Mauritian company sold 40 per cent of its share capital to France Telecom for US$261m. Deputy Prime Minister Paul Berenger said the deal would be of great advantage to Mauritius in that 'the money from the sale will help boost the economy.'

Mauritius Telecom is one of the country's most successful firms earning in excess of US$34m last year.


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