Archive for October, 2005

Mauritius – footwear

October 27, 2005

In 2003, having developed their Strategy and Action Plan, the Footwear Cluster in Mauritius sought the technical expertise and collaboration of the African Management Services Company.

While we are awaiting an update on progess, it is instructive to note that Hal Bosher, AMSCO Project Officer, told Footwear Cluster members then that AMSCO would delegate a foreign expert to the project. This was on cost-sharing basis for two years to assist enterprise technological improvement and also assist emerging clusters in training needs via their matching funds program. 

Mr. Bosher said that AMSCO would be more interested in asssiting clustered enterprises than individual ones because clusters provide the opportunity to involve more enterprises in improvement programs, hence speeding up industry restructuring.


Cluster involvement enables firms to jointly address common factors that affect both industry and firm competitiveness, namely material inputs and labour, and improvements in technology.  

The Productivity Implementation Committee on Clustering has identified printing, IT, language and environment as sectors for future projects.

There is scope for footwear associations, clusters or networks in other countries to form an alliance with the Mauritius folk. In this regard, Yorkshire (UK) was reportedly doing leading-edge work with the Mauritians  on digital printing.

Contact us for futher details.


‘Narooma mullet’ investment theorem

October 17, 2005

We were on the south coast of NSW recently inspecting tourism infrastructure (OK – it was a golf course!) and there’s a grizzled old bloke named Bob, paddling in the shallows. He says he’s getting some poddy mullet to use as live bait, to catch the big kingfish and jewfish that make Narooma famous.

Bob cuts a rectangular hole (about 15 cm x 4 cm) in the side of a 2 litre soft drink bottle, curves in the plastic edges, puts in a handful of Woolworths breadcrumbs and a decent sized sinker, leaves the screw cap on, and then submerges it.

After 15 minutes he wanders back out and returns with the bottle jam-packed with 15 cm long mullet. Some days it takes a couple of hours waiting to catch his bait, because mullet are pretty fickle. Bob says that it needs one mullet to pluck up the courage and dive in, then the others immediately follow. And do they cram in – absolutely amazing!

 This got us thinking about the investment buoyancy of lifestyle towns and regions, as noted in the ALGA’s State of the Regions report. Their economic drivers and infrastructure requirements differ from urban regions. And, in most cases, lifestyle regions have higher unemployment, lower employment prospects for school-leavers, more social welfare recipients, more micro businesses, and environmental issues that can polarise the community.

The broadening of these local economies is easier said than done. The challenge is to find that first mullet with courage.  

This is why the three levels of government must get into forward-looking development agendas to facilitate investment in these regions that is both economically sustainable (i.e. creating long-term rather than transient jobs) and environmentally sustainable.

Quality infrastructure – mobile phone coverage, Internet speed, university campuses, electricity and water supply, health care, good transport links – is the bait. But you cannot buy it from Woolworths.

In this regard, the progressive sale of Telstra, the nation’s telecoms asset, and other sell-offs mean the Howard Government has a once-only opportunity to fund some of the required public infrastructure in a planned manner.  

Source: The Good Oil column at