The Republic of Seychelles, located in the Indian Ocean, is made up of about a hundred islands. Its capital, Victoria, has a population of about 25,000 out of a total population of 87,000. The country’s main industries are fishing and tourism, but the government wants to shift the country’s economy in other directions, especially by encouraging agriculture and small-scale manufacturing.
For example, over the past decade, the Seychelles Petroleum Company has developed the country’s first modern tanker fleet. With all these developments, the various economic sectors need a strong ICT infrastructure.
According to the ICT Development Index, this island republic has 27 telephone lines per 100 inhabitants. With the advent of mobile telephony, the population has been very receptive to this new technological tool. In addition, one in four households has a computer and about 40% of the population is connected to the Internet.
A connection with the optical fiber
Seychelles leads the region in the spread of ICT. For example, Seychelles’ first secretary for ICT, Benjamin Choppy, said that by the end of 2011 the country will be connected to the international network of undersea fibre optic cables that run along the east coast of Africa. This large-scale development will cost no less than US$47 million. It aims to improve the country’s internet connections and international telephone calls.
The geographical position of the Seychelles is not conducive to connectivity, due to its isolation. In this regard, a feasibility study on the connection of Seychelles to the fibre optic cable was conducted by French consultants Axioms, and financed by the African Development Bank.
At present, the country has a very poor connection, which could be improved by fibre optics. Residents could benefit from a 200 megabyte connection, with the speed increasing over time.
With greatly improved connectivity, Seychelles will attract more investors, helping the country’s tourism sector at the same time. The local company Seychelles Cable Systems, created in 2008, will be in charge of this project. While the company is public, it is open to private sector support.
Addressing the nation on 26 February 2010, Seychelles President James Alix, expressed pride in the country’s progress in increasing connectivity and various developments in the field of ICT: “The awards I received on behalf of the people of Seychelles at UNESCO and in Beirut last year, symbolize the spirit of innovation of a people who have always benefited from equal opportunities in education,” he said. He added that the country has been able to prove its ability “to make the impossible possible.
Becoming a centre of excellence for ICT is a priority for the country. By doing so, Seychelles will have a more competitive economy, and improve the daily lives of Seychellois. In order to achieve this goal, the country has put in place a policy that promotes ICT. In the process, the sector will play an important role in all other areas, such as infrastructure, legislative frameworks, human resource development, the ICT industry and administration.
In his foreword to the National Information and Communications Technology Policy (NICTP), Jacquelin Dugasse, Seychelles’ Minister of National Development, stressed that it is important for the country to make every effort to develop ICT:
“The publication of the NICTP provides the necessary foundation for the development of a comprehensive National ICT Strategic Plan, which will be the roadmap for the development of the sector in this country.
He also expressed his certainty about the success of the project and the involvement of the various people concerned for the social, economic and cultural development of the country.
In order to have a modern and innovative society, Seychelles has recognized that it is imperative that ICT services be accessible, affordable, properly maintained and widely available. The ICT sector is a priority for the government, access to information and communication technologies will contribute to the progress of the country.
Indeed, with the advent of ICT in Seychelles, the government is committed to creating a more informed society and improving the quality of life of its citizens.
The importance of an ICT literate society
The Seychellois President stressed the importance of a knowledge-based society for Seychelles. According to him, the country needs to move forward by investing in current innovations, hence the establishment and opening of the University of Seychelles in 2009. This institution offers management and computer courses. Students are fortunate to be graduates of the University of London and receive mentoring and benefits during their apprenticeship.
“Our University is a great step forward. We are very proud of the 54 students who started their studies last year. We also have 229 young people who have been awarded state scholarships to study abroad, and many others are undergoing various training programmes,” the Seychellois President said in his address to the nation.
One of the primary objectives of the University of Seychelles has been to establish ICT facilities to meet their own needs. These facilities allow the creation of links with NGOs or private and public bodies in Seychelles. The priority of this University is “to act as a hub for the development of a knowledge-based society”.
Small Islands Voice Initiative
Small Islands Voice” is an initiative launched in 2002 by UNESCO. Its aim is to listen to the voice of the inhabitants of the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean and through this, to enable these islands to join the information society. It is imperative that young people are encouraged to discover and use ICTs, and they will pass it on to future generations.
In the long term, this project aims to enhance the voice of the inhabitants of these “small islands” to enable them to participate in the development of their respective countries.
Innovating for a better future
Seychelles is making great strides in ICT and this is reflected in its top ranking in the ITU’s ICT Development Index. The President of Seychelles has demonstrated his commitment to achieving the goals through the establishment of a Technology and Innovation Council.
“When we look at our place in this globalized world, it is clear that innovation is the reason for our success,” he said. “That is why I have created a Technology and Innovation Council, to promote creativity, research and development. We are preparing our country for the world of tomorrow.