Educating Mauritians to shop online

While the Government of Mauritius have managed to portray the country as a Cyber Island, the truth is far from that. A lot of development has been made in the recent years and looking at the infrastructure, you’d surely be convinced the government services are very well advanced and organised. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of paperwork is involved in nearly everything you do in this country. Go to the Police Station to file a case and you’d be asked to sign on a paper book where the officer has handwritten your statement. The hospitals, the births & deaths registrations, the pension schemes and all other services seem to be run on paper. The concept of a central data network seems to be missing. Too few services are available through the Internet to mention yet they talk about being the leader in ICT amongst the African countries. Of course, the one-eyed man is king amongst the blind.

With all that said, you’d surely wonder how often you’d need the government services such as applying for a permit or making an application for your driving licence. You can live knowing that only once in a while you’d have to experience the frustration of all those manual tasks. However as we move towards a more sophisticated lifestyle where technology surrounds us, surely we’d want all the facilities that comes along with it and one thing that’s bound to make life easier is online shopping. Who’s got time outside their busy schedules (work or other responsibilities) to actually go shopping for the things they need nowadays?

It is unfortunate that not many e-commerce websites are yet available in Mauritius. However it’s the attitude of the people which is the main problem. No one likes change and when you’ve been used to buying your things in person and pay by cash, you’d be apprehensive of any other ways of shopping. Take for example the Clever Dodo Shop which allows people to buy things through the internet and have their orders shipped to them. The idea is very nice but people use the website as an online catalogue instead. They are happy they are able to see the product photos, descriptions and get their questions about the products answered quickly but when it comes to actually making the purchase online, they seem to get scared. They want a phone number instead and prefer to meet in person, hand over the cash and get their items.

To an extent, it seems to be a backwards mentality as in they don’t want to evolve but at the same time, I think they need to be educated about buying online. Putting your credit card details online is a risk but this has been mitigated by multiple prevention schemes and Mauritians need to be aware of that. There are countermeasures such a Verified By Visa, Paypal if you do not want to enter your credit/debit card details on every website you make a purchase, or the password based transaction offered by MCB (Mauritius Commercial Bank). You also need to look at the credibility of the website before entering into a contract with them, so checking the terms & conditions, delivery information and other details relevant to you is a must. There’s also the padlock symbol on the web browser which gets displayed when a site uses SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to ensure the encryption of whatever you’re inputting on their website which gives you re-assurance that nobody will be able to intercept your data.

I think the Mauritian government should promote buying online and raise awareness in that field because that will benefit the economy of the country as well as making shopping easier for the residents. If the attitude doesn’t change in the coming years, we’re sure to have a country stuck in the enhanced barter system.