By Tejcoomar Luchmun.
“You say that your hope is in God, and he will, I am sure, stand by you. But you must not forget that you have been given worldly means to use and employ against human arrogance and wrong; it is necessary to see such things with a broad mind in order to oppose them.” Knute Nelson
Of the many bad habits humans are known for having, arrogance should rank among the worst. It may only seem impolite behaviour and therefore relatively harmless, but underneath can lie trouble… Continue reading
Mauritius could face an oil crisis in the coming weeks as Iran threatens to end exports to India. Mangalore refinery, which supplies all of Mauritius’ petroleum needs, is dependent on Iran for 60% of its crude oil. The problem is that US led sanctions against Iran have made it difficult for India to pay Iran for its oil and the outstanding bill is now $5 Billion. Iran is now threatening to end exports on the 1st of August.
The government of Mauritius has been aware of this problem since January. At the time the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr. S. Soodhun assured the country that there were sufficient supplies en route to last for several months. The very same day he announced his desire to build an oil refinery on the island. Meanwhile the STC wants to increase the petroleum storage facilities at Port Louis apparently to avoid supply problems caused by Somali pirates.
The required investments are huge. Even the IMF is warning that oil will become an increasingly scarce and hence expensive commodity. Their advice is to back sustainable alternative sources of energy. Mauritius’ agricultural sector has great potential to produce biofuels. To achieve energy security and protect our economy surely we should look to our own resources?
There is no denying that certain Mauritians accumulated their wealth through the exploitation of labour. Once the African slaves were freed by the sugar estates, they were replaced by impoverished indentured labourers from India. Rather than pay higher salaries more labour was imported, ensuring that supply outstripped demand.
In the 1980s the textile sector was introduced to the country and gave jobs to many of our women folk. Did this emancipate them or exploit them as they were exempt from the workers rights that men enjoyed? Whichever the case, history repeated itself when they expected better pay. They were replaced by foreign workers from countries whose citizens were more desperate than our own. What is shameful is that such a high level of exploitation exists today. Continue reading
At the second meeting of the MID Energy working group last week, we presented our major project of 2011: how Mauritius can be entirely self-sufficient in energy. The need to drastically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is best illustrated by the graph showing them as a percentage of our total merchandise imports. From 1970 to 2000 they were in the range of 5-10% then, from 2000 to 2008, they rocketed up to over 20% and only fell back again as a consequence of the global financial crisis. If we get back to the “business as usual” trajectory, within a decade or two, our fuel bill will be unaffordable unless we are prepared to do without other imports like computers, refrigerators, clothes or food. Continue reading