Surrounded by coral reef, Rodrigues is an island of 108 km2 located at about 560 km East of Mauritius. The island is the tenth district of the Republic of Mauritius. Since October 2001, the island of Rodrigues enjoys an autonomous status within the Republic with its own Regional Assembly and an Executive Council for the framing and implementation of its socio–economic policies. It is administered by a Regional Assembly whereby elections are held every five years.
As at 31 December 2015, the island had a resident population of 42,058 with 20,682 males and 21,376 females (Economic and Social Indicators, March 2016). The population of Rodrigues is relatively young with about 38 % being in under 21 years old. The fertility rate for the year 2015 stood at 137.31 for age range between 15 – 24 years old. This also explains the number of registered cases for teenage pregnancy which was 81 for the year 2016.
2.0 Economic Analysis
Traditionally, Rodrigues relies mainly on agriculture (including livestock), tourism, and fisheries for its economic development.
Since the autonomy of Rodrigues in 2001 and as at date there have been a lot of major achievements:
Construction and upgrading of road networks and bridges;
Infrastructural development in terms of construction of new and modern buildings as well as upgrading of older ones;
Major milestones have been set up to make Rodrigues an ecological island, such as the introduction and use of solar and wind turbine energy, banning of plastic bags and the octopus seasonal closure;
Introduction of the community school concept and construction of new schools to provide better access to education.
3.0 Economic Sectors
The agricultural sector has demonstrated persistent low productivity and has been vulnerable to increased competition from imports. It occupies an important position in developing the economy of the island given its potential contribution to GDP, employment, environment sustainability and food security.
Over the past five years, the Rodrigues Regional Assembly has been providing training and schemes (such as Land preparation and mechanization, chilli farms, local poultry amongst others) to attract new blood to the sector. In 2015 the top three main food crop production were maize (390.7 tonnes), onion (323.4 tonnes) and creepers (238.5 tonnes). Efforts are also being made to increase the production of lemons, chillies, and honey.
3.2 Fisheries and Aquaculture
With a lagoon area of about 240 km2, the fishing sector is the main source of revenue for many Rodriguan families. In 2015, the number of registered fishing boats stood at 1,971, an increase of 7.8% over the last five years. 190 professional fisherwomen were registered in 2015. The total fish caught in 2015 in the lagoon was 1347.4 metric tonnes and 408.4 metric tonnes for off-lagoon catch.
In 2012, the RRA introduced the octopus fishery closure season. In 2015, 503.6 metric tonnes of octopus were caught in the lagoon, an increase of 32% over the last five years. The production of seaweed is also being done on an experimental basis.
Tourism is considered as a main pillar of the Rodriguan economy. For the year 2016 tourist arrivals stood at 73,610 , representing an increase of 72% over the past 11 years.
Exhibit 1.1: Tourist arrivals 2006-2016
Mauritius and France/Reunion Island constitute the main markets for the Rodriguan tourism sector whereas France/Australia ranks second.
Air Austral currently operates weekly direct flights between Rodrigues and Reunion Island during the Reunion holiday season. On the other hand, in 2009, the Government of Mauritius introduced a special holiday package for tourists coming from Mauritius.
The island favours eco-friendly attractions. Sport activities such as kite surf, off-lagoon fishing, hiking, trekking and nature walks are proposed to tourists.
3.4 New and Emerging Sectors
The SMEs are oriented towards the production of goods for export to niche markets. This is key to the development of a strong and vibrant climate for the private sector in Rodrigues. In addition, the Government is encouraging the development of a label “Rodrigues Naturellement” and the creation of a one stop shop for craft making entrepreneurs.
The ICT sector holds a lot of potential. The island is currently disserved by satellite rendering internet connectivity. The Government will be procuring bandwidth through fibre optic cable within the next couple of years.
In the meantime, Wi-Fi zones have been set up in different strategic regions on the island. To encourage IT literacy among youths, the Government has also set up “e-learning corners” in community and youth centres.
Moreover, with the setting up of its first ICT/BPO centre in Camp du Roi, the ICT business community is now part and parcel of the Rodriguan community.
3.5 Health Care
In terms of health infrastructure, the island has one main hospital at Creve Coeur in the North of the island, two health centres at La Ferme and Mont Lubin. There are also 14 community health centres. Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs) such as Cardiovascular, Neoplasm, Cancer and Diabetes Mellitus represent 70% of death rate in Rodrigues whereas communicable diseases represented only 2% in 2015.
Rodrigues shares the same education system as the rest of the Republic of Mauritius In 2017, there are:
(i) 33 schools Pre-primary schools
(ii) 16 primary schools(comprising Government and RCEA)
(iii) 7 Colleges(6 managed by REDCO and 1 by RODCO)
The Rodriguan education system introduced the community school concept so as to encourage parents, especially of poor background, to send their children to school and at the same time participate in the education of their child. This is also a means of diminishing illiteracy among the population at large.
21 March 2017
Rodrigues Regional Assembly