PORT-LOUIS, January 18, 2010 – “Fostering competitiveness by promoting skills and innovation” is the theme of a one-day workshop to share the results of a new study, “Mauritius: Investment Climate Assessment 2009”, which calls for a multi-pronged effort to support exports, foster industry-research collaboration, improve human resources, strengthen workers’ skills base, and expand access to finance. The report summarizes the results of a micro-level survey of 484 firms and 120 micro firms in the manufacturing and services sectors.
The new report, Mauritius ICA 2009, was jointly prepared by the World Bank, African Development Bank and Mauritian Board of Investment, in collaboration with the Joint Economic Council of Mauritius. It provides evidence-based analytical advice to policymakers, business leaders, and civil society with a view to strengthening competitiveness in Mauritius.
“Mauritius is one of Africa’s most competitive and successful economies,” said Giuseppe Iarossi, World Bank Senior Economist and lead author of the report. “However, innovation will be a key factor for achieving higher levels of productivity and efficiency that are needed to stay on top.”
The report recommends:
- Support for exports by establishing programs for firms entering new export markets or those exporting new products in existing markets ;
- Incentives for private sector R&D by launching campaigns for quality improvements in systems and techniques, offering incentives such as tax exemptions and matching grant schemes, and programs to bring industries up to international standards;
- Improvements in human resources and skills by promoting skills development of the Mauritian workforce, investing in science and engineering education, and increasing collaboration with overseas universities, and
- Expanded access to finance by designing innovative financial products that reduce collateral risk, establishing a national Business Plan, extending the work of Credit Information Bureaus, and mobilizing Mauritian diaspora for investment and nation building.
“Knowledge is a powerful force for fostering innovation,” said Constantine Chikosi, World Bank Senior Private Sector Development Specialist. “We have a knowledge-driven partnership with the Government of Mauritius and the report is an example of the customized, value-added product that helps inform the making of public policy.”
The Mauritius ICA 2009 report draws on a robust, standardized and tested methodology. Strict quality control procedures are applied during the data collection process, and the overall response rate for the survey exceeded 90 percent.
The one-day workshop will address three key sub-themes, including access to finance by small and medium enterprises, role of innovation, research and development in competitiveness, and ways to boost skill development.