Mauritius: Africa's Little Miracle Nation Turns Fifty
06 March 2018
The story of how Mauritius defied the gloomy predictions of its fate is well told. A few years before independence in 1968, Nobel-prize-winning economist James Meade wrote the little island in the Indian Ocean off as a basket case. A few years after independence, writer V. S. Naipaul dismissed the nation as an "overcrowded barracoon". Yet Mauritius proved them wrong and went on to become one of Africa's most lauded nations. It regularly tops indices for political freedoms, rule of law and human development on the continent. It has had ten competitive elections and seven peaceful transfers of power. And it is frequently held up as an exemplar of political stability and cohesion, containing within it several ethnic groups - including Hindus, Muslims, Afro-Creoles, and Sino- and Franco-Mauritius - all living together in relative harmony. In 2011, the island's various successes even led Joseph Stiglitz to wax lyrical about what he called "The Mauritius Miracle". The Nobel laureate called on the US and other advanced economies to emulate the country and learn from its approach to free education, healthcare and strong social security net.