The Republic of Mauritius joined the select group of space faring countries since 2021. Such a historical realization has unveiled new opportunities for technological and scientific development that could prove to be beneficial for the socio-economic development of Mauritius in the coming years.
Building upon this achievement, the MRIC is proposing to define and implement a Space Programme – a framework and roadmap to leverage on space technology and space-derived data to contribute to the social and economic development of Mauritius.
Focus of the Symposium
The MRIC has recently taken cognizance of several Mauritian Diaspora (currently established in Australia, Canada, Belgium, Russia, United Kingdom, and France) who are experts in space related fields.
The intention of the Mauritian space expert diaspora to collaborate with the MRIC, in its endeavor to develop the space sector for Mauritius, seems to be genuine and very promising.
In view of concretizing this intention, the MRIC proposes the creation of a “Think and Action Working Group” to investigate different avenues for collaboration and research between the Mauritian space expert diaspora and the MRIC team.
This first symposium aims at gathering different (Mauritian/Mauritian connected) expertise in the space/satellite fields to reflect on the avenues to be explored for space development for the Republic of Mauritius.
The outcomes of the discussions could lead to the initiation of implementation of research activities promoting further development of space sector in Mauritius with a strong participation of its diaspora.
The proposed areas of action for the space program to be considered in discussions
Based on the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) exercise carried out recently by the MRIC to assess the need of space and satellite related data and technology amongst key stakeholders in Mauritius, the MRIC identified the following aspects which would need to be tackled as a first step in the development of the Space Programme.
These actions (are listed below), although non exhaustive, provide some key actions to initiate the work.
i. Capacity building in Satellite/Space Technology
Space can be a pull factor for capacity building in STEM. Interest in STEM subjects potentially translates into a knowledge-based economy and a more skilled workforce relevant to emerging technologies.
ii. Space Based solutions at the service of the blue economy
It is quite difficult to monitor and manage the Mauritian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) due to its significantly large area. Furthermore, the Republic of Mauritius also counts many small islands which form 496 km of coastline, whose ecosystem is at risk due to human activities and climate change. Satellite data can play a major role in addressing these issues. The potential benefits are improved management of fish and marine resources, more sustainable ways of exploiting these marine resources, improved resilience of the ecosystem in our lagoons and coastal regions, and higher economic benefits due to sea-related activities.
iii. Collaboration with leading space agencies
The MRIC has forged good working relationships with renowned international space organizations such as JAXA, ISRO and MBRSC. These links can boost capacity building and for the launching and commissioning of new satellite missions. For these new research avenues, it would be interesting to solicit the collaboration of the highly skilled fellow Mauritians working in the space industry abroad.
iv. Incentivizing space business development in Mauritius
The Space Business is getting more and more momentum. The Republic of Mauritius has lately set up several incentives (e.g., tax holidays, Residency by innovation etc.) which provide for interesting packages for foreigners to do business from Mauritius. The geostrategic position of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, the business incentives, the temperate climate are some interesting arguments for space startups (from developed countries around the world) to set up in Mauritius.
There is no doubt that Space and satellite technologies can provide significant boost to technological development in the Republic of Mauritius.
The challenge is to conceive the recipe which would fit the Mauritian context. We need to adopt the right strategy, connect with relevant stakeholders, define adapted policies and laws and secure enough funding.
Deployment of such hefty initiatives pose several challenges ranging from scarcity of funds, expertise, equipment, access to data and latest space technology among others.
However, leveraging on our own people and expertise, we can work together against all odds to realize this futuristic vision – making Mauritius a radiant hub for space missions in the Indian Ocean.