Utilities of Mauritius
Mauritius has power plants with sufficient capacity for current requirements, but the country has limited energy reserves and is heavily dependent on imported sources of energy. Electricity is produced from imported fossil fuel, coal and a by-product of sugar known as bagasse. According to the country’s Central Statistics Office, imported fuels comprising petroleum products and coal accounted for 84.8 per cent of the total primary energy requirement in 2012 while locally available sources including bagasse, hydropower, wind power, landfill gas and wood supplied the remaining 15.2 per cent.
The state-owned Central Electricity Board holds the sole right for the transmission, distribution and commercialisation of electricity. Independent power producers hold private power generators for the sugar industry. According to the Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities, 22 per cent of the country’s electricity is generated from renewable sources (2009). In 2008 the government set up the specialty Mauritius Ile Durable Fund to further the production of renewable energy.
Petroleum products are amongst Mauritius’ major imports. Petroleum fuels are required for the marine, automotive and aviation sectors. The State Trading Corporation is the trading arm of the government responsible for the import of essential commodities, including petroleum products. The main companies in the country’s downstream sector that are involved in the distribution and retail of petroleum products are Indian Oil, Shell, Total and Caltex.
Ninety-six per cent of the population have access to an improved drinking water source and 98 per cent to adequate sanitation facilities (2010). The Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities is at the top of the hierarchy of bodies tasked with the management of water resources. Delegated power is vested in the Water Resources Unit, which is responsible for the assessment, management, development and conservation of water resources. The other two parastatal bodies in this sector are the Central Water Authority and the Waste Water Management Authority. The Forestry Service is also responsible for water management, as water conservation forms an integral part of forest management within the National Forest Policy. The Scientific Services Department, which falls within the Central Water Authority, is responsible for the quality control of drinkable water as per the World Health Organization standard specifications.
The telecoms sector in Mauritius is among the most developed in Africa. Mauritius Telecom provides the majority of fixed line services via the many subsidiary bodies that make up the company. Originally a completely government-owned organisation, it was floated on the stock market, with the Mauritian Government retaining a percentage of the shares. The government, the State Bank of Mauritius and the national pension fund collectively own 59 per cent of shares. Orange is a major partner, with 40 per cent ownership, and employees hold one per cent of shares.
The main companies providing mobile phone services are: Mauritius Telecom/Orange, Emtel and Mahangar, a subsidiary of India’s MTNL. The latter company also acts as the islands’ second fixed-line operator.
The 2001 Information and Communications Act sets out the regulatory framework via the Information and Communications Technology Authority, which controls both ICT and postal networks. This body has the power to regulate ICT, telecoms and data protection, and the ability to grant licenses to telecoms operators.