Definition of a capable state
A Capable State is one that possesses the appropriate capabilities to respond effectively, efficiently and timely to domestic needs and demands as well as to meet the global challenges in the 21st century so as to operate successfully.
In its generic definition, ‘Capable State’ encapsulates three critical dimensions: society and people, governance, and economic orientation.
The ability of a nation to pursue and manage its development rests on the capacity of its people and institutions within a prevailing enabling environment. Sustainable development and growth require national capacity with the ability to diagnose problems followed by formulating and implementing relevant solutions.
We shall examine the challenges facing Mauritius and its response towards building a capable state.
Mauritian context - the country
The Republic of Mauritius is a small island developing state in the Indian Ocean comprising mainland Mauritius and several outer islands with a total land area of 2000 sq km within an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.9 million km2, a population estimated at 1.24 million and an income per capita of about USD 5400 in 2006
Mauritius is an outward looking economy depending on international trade for its livelihood. Mauritius observes a strict adherence to the principles of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and separation of powers
Due to its social and economic policies effective in the nineteen eighties and nineties and its industrial base, Mauritius experienced a steady growth rate averaging 5.6% over the last two decades. We are however facing a declining growth rate which is further compounded by the triple shock of increase in oil prices, reduction of preferential access, especially in the textile sector, and the reduction of sugar price by the EU. The government has embarked in a major program to take the country in a path of robust and sustainable growth rate of 7%.
Challenges facing the Mauritian economy
Mauritius as a small island economy suffers several handicaps arising from the interplay of several factors relating to its size. As all small islands, its vulnerability is enhanced by its physical isolation, distance from its main markets, minimal share of world trade, small domestic markets, dependence on few export markets, inadequate infrastructure, high transport and transit costs.
Mauritius is in a transitory stage from dependence on a regime of trade preferences to open competition in the global economy. It is facing a loss of preferential market access for its major exports such as sugar and textiles. As a middle income country, Mauritius is not favoured among donor countries and agencies.
Mauritius needs to build effective and credible institutions capable of articulating highquality collective action and providing government with resources sufficient to implement public policies in relevant problem areas. MICs commonly face three basic vulnerabilities, namely
Social and institutional vulnerability
Mauritius pursues an active policy of integration through sub-regional organisations such as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and the Indian Ocean Rim – Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). Mauritius is also looking into possibilities of developing strategic partnerships with Member-States of SAARC, ASEAN as well as the Latin American countries.