News highlights of the week: Decreasing forest area on the island

Expat news
Published on 2023-08-04 at 07:56 by Lila Chaleon*
This week in Mauritius: a new environmental report highlighting important findings, the highly anticipated 5G network has been officially launched by Emtel, and lastly, the World Health Organization has recognized Mauritius' efforts in curbing smoking and commended the country for its successful measures.

Decreasing forest area on the island

The latest report from Statistics Mauritius for the year 2022 reveals a concerning trend of decreasing forest area on the island. This decline is primarily due to the rapid development of real estate projects such as hotels and smart cities. Between 2021 and 2022, the forest area shrank by four hectares, going from 47,006 to 47,002 hectares. Additionally, sugarcane cultivation also decreased from 41,897 to 39,199 hectares, leading to a 9% drop in sugar production.

Regarding energy consumption, the report indicates that in 2022, only 10% of the energy came from local renewable sources, while fossil fuels dominated with 89.9%. However, during the same period, there was an 11% decrease in the production of local renewable energy. Despite this decrease, overall electricity production still managed to increase by 4.2%.

Emtel launches 5G mobile network

Emtel, the telecommunications operator, celebrated the official launch of the 5G mobile network in Mauritius on Tuesday. With this, Emtel becomes a pioneer in 5G mobile data networks on the island, already covering 60% of localities with 200 operational sites since July 31st. The introduction of 5G promises to revolutionize communication, work, and entertainment for Mauritians, including students, gamers, telecommuters, small businesses, and industries. 5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks and represents a significant advancement in wireless communication technology, offering much faster data speeds than 4G, reduced latency, better capacity to connect multiple devices simultaneously, and improved stability.

Mauritius' tobacco control efforts pay off

The World Health Organization's 9th international report on tobacco control commends Mauritius for being among the three countries that have successfully met all the criteria of the MPOWER strategy (Monitoring, Protecting, Offering help, Warning about dangers of tobacco, Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, and Raising taxes on tobacco). This success is attributed to policies like implementing plain packaging, indoor and outdoor smoking restrictions, and banning smoking in vehicles with passengers. Previously, only Brazil and Turkey had achieved this objective. Mauritius now becomes the third country to join this select list, alongside the Netherlands.

Moreover, according to a survey on non-communicable diseases in 2021, cigarette consumption in Mauritius has been declining. The prevalence of smoking was 18.1% during that year, compared to 19.3% in 2015. When looking at gender differences, the smoking rate among men was 35.3% in 2021, while it was only 3.7% among women.

These figures indicate a positive trend, as the smoking rates were higher in 2015, with 38.0% among men and 3.9% among women. It is also noteworthy that in the 25 to 34 age group, cigarette consumption decreased from 50% in 2015 to 48% in 2021.