- The government of Mauritius has decided that the island nation will introduce Summer (Daylight saving) Time, starting in October this year. Mauritius will be the first sub-Saharan African nation to do so, connecting the island more closely to tourist and business markets in Europe.
The Mauritian cabinet, in the context of promoting Mauritius as "Une Île Durable", has agreed to the introduction into the national parliament of the Time Bill, which provides for the introduction of summer time in Mauritius.
"The summer time period which will be of one hour ahead of the standard time, will be aligned with that in Europe and the United States of America. It will start at two o'clock in the morning on the last Sunday of October and will end at two o'clock in the morning on the last Sunday of March the following year," the Mauritian government says in a press release.
The summer time for the year 2008 - 2009 will, therefore, be effective as from 26 October 2008 and end on 29 March 2009, reflecting the summer season of the southern hemisphere and corresponding to "winter time" changing dates in most European and North American countries.
According to government, the summer time initiative is expected to "produce gains to the country, reduce global carbon emissions, generate substantial savings in terms of energy production and consumption, and at the same time, reduce the electricity peak demand in the evening by some 15 MW."
The use of Daylight saving time (DST) is mostly confined to countries located at high latitudes, including all Europe except Iceland and most of North America. In the southern hemisphere, DST is only used in southern South America (notably Chile and Argentina), New Zealand and some parts of Australia.
In Africa, the use of DST is seldom and in most cases counterproductive, as the continent's location close to the equator produces only very small differences in daylight in winter and summer. However, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt follow European summer time, while DST earlier was tried out in countries such as South Africa, Madagascar, Botswana, Algeria, Libya, Sudan and Ghana. These experiments however did not last long and no sub-Saharan country now uses DST.
The use of summer time has been controversial in many countries. For business and leisure, the longer time-span of daylight during summer is seen as an advantage, as it may turn out for Mauritius' large tourism industry. But DST causes problems for the farming sector and other occupations tied to the sun. Claims that DST reduces electricity consume, often an important goal for governments introducing the system, mostly have proven unrealistic.
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