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Digital Competitiveness: Mauritius loses ground on African counterparts

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Mauritius has significantly lost ground in digital competitiveness between 2017 and 2019 with an aggregated – 74 score. The country is ranked 20th place in Sub-Saharan Africa, far behind the leaders. The mindset prevailing in Mauritius being the main reason for this great plunge.

The 1st edition of the Digital Riser Report 2020 was released on September 07 2020. The study is published by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness by ESCP Business School in Berlin. The Digital Riser Report analyses and ranks the changes that countries worldwide have seen in their digital competitiveness over the last three years. It includes items from the Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) every year.

The mindset heavily penalizing digital competitiveness

Mauritius seems to be regressing in terms of digital skills among the active population, attitudes towards entrepreneurial risk, workforce diversity, mobile-broadband subscriptions, and companies embracing disruptive ideas. These five components constitute the “Mindset” dimension of this digital index.

According to the report, Mauritius’s digital competitiveness was eroded mainly due to a score of -74 in the “Mindset” dimension. Conversely, the “Ecosystem” dimension remained stagnant in the Digital Riser index.

The “Ecosystem” dimension includes venture capital availability, the cost to start a business, the time to start a business, the ease of hiring foreign labor, and graduates’ skillset; all five components have remained still for the period under review.

Mauritius is no longer a leader in Africa. With a score of -74, Mauritius is positioned 20th in Sub-Saharan Africa, far behind Seychelles, Gambia, Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania, the five leading countries in the region with a respective score of +277, +149, +113, +92, and +55. 

The outperformance of Seychelles can mainly be explained by the launch of the Seychelles National Investment Policy, adopted in 2018 to allow more investments to flow into the country. Also, initiatives such as SIDS were put in place to advance Seychelles’ transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy.

Long-term vision around digitalization and entrepreneurship

As stated by the report, we are in the middle of a digital revolution that is very likely accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic; the latter highlighting the importance of digital technologies. Companies with a digital business model have been able to navigate through the lockdown without significant revenue loss or even sustained growth.

According to the authors, the way governments manage and navigate this transition will significantly determine how competitive and prosperous their countries will be in the decades ahead.

New technologies such as 3D printing, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Sensors, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, and Robotic have the potential to disrupt nearly any industry. They are game-changers that will bring new opportunities.

To drive this fundamental transition, successful transformation can only occur if the mindset and the ecosystem of each country are sufficiently developed to enable digital and technological progress.

The “Digital Riser” ranking thus offers a dynamic perspective on the fast-moving field of digital transformation. It shows how much can be gained and lost in a relatively short time frame as in the post-COVID-19 world, digital technologies will play a significant role.

The question is then how governments will manage and navigate the transition driven by digital technologies; be it in video conferencing, redesigning supply chains, or finding more efficient ways to organize processes in companies and governments. 

As highlighted by the study, top Digital Risers have one thing in common. They have followed comprehensive, swiftly-implemented plans along with a long-term vision around digitalization and entrepreneurship. 

Dr. Christian Poensgen of the European Center for Digital Competitiveness by ESCP Business School Berlin explains that there’s a lot that governments can learn from the example of top performers. According to the report, the top Digital Risers tend to emphasize the importance of digital education. Considerable investments in digitalization are common among these countries. And, a commitment to entrepreneurship is crucial.