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Africa: Two islands nation in full economic growth

23.02.2019
Over the years, much has been talked about Africa. Among the many topics that surfaced, we heard of things like post-electoral violence, civil war, and terrorist attacks among others. However, this doesn’t in any way depict the African continent as a place of horror. Africa is a continent of so many tribes and cultures but with people who believe in the spirit of togetherness. Because it is a natural phenomenon, all can never be a bed of roses.
It is obvious that political instability on the continent, especially in French dominated nations, has impeded a steady economic growth of the continent, many years after most nations gained their independence in the 60s and contained internal wars thereafter. Many of these countries are at a threshold of gaining political maturity. Notwithstanding, some countries on the continent that are less talked about have witnessed political stability all these decades, whose economies are flourishing well, thanks to their diverse economic activities.

The two island states of Seychelles and Mauritius are some of the most stable nations on the continent. Though very young, they have made significant strides in economic development. Tourism is one of the economic activities that has gained grounds in these countries.

The Island nation of Seychelles

Seychelles is an African Island nation in the Indian Ocean and often considered as an East African nation. Seychelles equally lies northeast of the Indian Ocean nation of Madagascar. The African nation comprises of some 115 small islands. Its capital city is called Victoria. Dating back to 2016, the total population of Seychelles stood at ninety-five (95) thousands.   Interestingly, Seychelles has gained the honour of having the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in Africa. It stood at $15,410 in 2016. Seychellois Creole, English and French are the official languages in Seychelles. Seychelles is a member of the Commonwealth and La Francophonie.

Political life

Unlike other African nations that have had turbulent political transitions, especially after Independence, Seychelles’ political storyline takes a different angle. Since the East African nation got its independence from the United Kingdom in June 1976, it has been striving to consolidate political democracy. The Island nation witnessed its first multiparty in 1993 after the adoption of a new constitution. Seychelles has had four presidents since it became an autonomous state. They include:

President James Michel resigned in 2016, after which incumbent President Danny Faure took over from him. The level of political democracy in Seychelles was confirmed when an opposition coalition won the 2016 legislative elections. Next presidential elections are billed for 2020.

Economic activities

Before Seychelles became independent, its main economic activity was agriculture. Cotton, Sugar, rice and maize were the main produce of the plantations controlled by the French and which relied on slave labour. Notwithstanding, the opening of Seychelles’ International airport in 1977, became a springboard to Seychelles’ tourism and fishing industries.

Tourism in Seychelles

‘’Tourism has made Seychelles’’. Seychelles’ stable nature and good infrastructure have attracted many visitors and spurred foreign direct investment (FDI). The visa-free policy adopted by the government of Seychelles has greatly increased the number of visitors entering the country. Its visa-free nature promotes tourism and even favours trade among other nations. Though the export of agricultural products dwindled over the years, the Tourism industry has been a catalyst to the country’s economic growth. The tourism sector employs about 30% of the total workforce, generating over 70% of the hard currency earnings. Tourists arrivals rose by 15.4% in 2017 to a record high of 349,861. Some 27,644 tourists from Russia, Germany, India, Italy, and France visited Seychelles as of February 17, 2019. Some touristic sites include Anse Intendance-Mahé, Seychelles National Botanical Garden, Curieuse Island, Victoria Island.

However, to avoid over-dependence on tourism, the government has embarked on diversification programs, to encourage activities like farming, fishing, among others. President Danny Faure while addressing a business and private sector on blue economy said ‘’ Seychelles has always recognized the need to balance economic growth with environmental sustainability. For us, the Blue Economy represents the next frontier for development. It offers an alternative model for sustainable exploitation of the ocean’s resources and socially inclusive economic development.’’ According to the president, Seychelles has for over 200 years, depended on the ocean for fisheries, international and domestic shipping to support trade, and also boost tourism.

The Republic of Mauritius

Like Seychelles, Mauritius is also an island nation in the Indian Ocean on the African continent. It is located 500 miles east of Madagascar.  Mauritius cannot be left out when talking about Africa’s success story. Like Seychelles, Mauritius has enjoyed peace and serenity since independence in 1968. Port Louis is the capital city of the Island nation. Its political scene has been widely hailed due to peaceful elections and genuine power transfers.  One astonishing fact about Mauritius is that its population of over 1.3 million is a merger of Indian, African, French and Chinese heritage.

Political life

The storyline of Mauritian politics seems to be an interesting one and quite different from others. Since the office of the president was instituted in 1992, when the country became a republic in the Commonwealth of Nations and Queen Elizabeth II losing control over the nation, six presidents have been at the helm of the nation. Presently, Barlen Vyapoory is the acting president of Mauritius after a financial scandal that caused then President Ameenah Gurib to resign. Being a parliamentary republic, a president is elected by the national assembly to the ceremonial position, as stated by the constitution. Notwithstanding, the country is one of Africa’s most peaceful and democratic nation.

Economy and Tourism

According to statistics, the world bank depicts Mauritius first in the continent for ease of doing business. It is a naturally endowed nation with arable land and fish and its climate favours crop production like sugarcane, tea, coffee. Its industries include Food processing, textiles, clothing; chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, nonelectrical machinery; tourism.  In 2003, Mauritian GDP stood at $5.5 billion, with a growth rate of 4.4%.

Tourism occupies the third position in Mauritian economy after textile and agricultural sector.  Though the third, it has been the main boost to economic development. Blue seas, beaches, cultural diversity, historic sites, as per statistics, tourist arrivals have witnessed an upsurge in the past years, moving from 103,000 in 1977 to 656,450 in 2000. Tourism has moved the country from a low-income nation to a middle-income nation. Mauritius will play host to the  26th year of World Travel Awards 2019. According to the world tourism organization, Tourism represents about 7% of global employees.

With the win of change that is blowing across the continent and increase globalization, many people around the world especially the business class will get to uncover the potentials of Seychelles and Mauritius.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Credit images: google images/Seychelles/Mauritius 

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