Mauritian Youth Centers Equipped With Cybercafés

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Mauritius launched its Community Empowerment Program (CEP) last week with the aim of facilitating ICT use in order for citizens to fully participate in the country's socioeconomic development.

Conceived by the National Computer Board (NCB) and financed by the United Nations Development Program, one aspect of the project involves equipping all youth centers in the country with cybercafés. With 22 centers currently being equipped, the program is already reaching the majority of the country's youth centers.

"This initiative is in line with our objective to make IT accessible to every sphere of our society," said Minister of ICT Asraf Dulull at the program's launch ceremony in Port-Louis.

Post offices are also being equipped with small cybercafés under the CEP, and the final goal of the project is to encourage the development of local content and lessen the digital divide.

"The program will provide a common platform for sharing local knowledge and a marketplace for project proposals, discussion forums and thematic Web directories," explained a manager at the NCB. "It should also enable communities to formulate and implement their own development projects by collaborating with donors and other stakeholders."

The minister, however, expects the most enthusiastic participation to come from the private sector.

"IT is a must for the development of our society," Dulull said. "The government is very involved but should not be the only one. The private sector and NGOs should also play their part, because democratizing access to IT is democratizing economy."

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