Marc Serge rivire
Lighting the way ahead:HiStory of eLectricity in MauritiuS
Lighting the way ahead:History of ELEctricity in Mauritius
Marc sErgE rivirE
Copyright2015 The Central Electricity Board
Published by The Central Electricity Board
All rights reserved. No part of this publication
may be reproduced without written permission
from the copyright owners.
Designed and Produced by Daiichi Display Ltd.
Photographs used in this book have been prepared by Kerr
Dinally, who has also undertaken the graphics and page-setting.
To him I am most grateful. I also wish to express my most
sincere thanks to Sylvio de Lapeyere for giving permission to
use his original paintings in this book. I am greatly indebted to
Daiichi for their very professional and thorough approach to the
preparation and publication of this book.
A special thank you to Sharon Jacquin-Ng Ping Cheung, my
Research Assistant, who helped me gather some of the
detailed information, notably from the C.E.B. Archives and the
Bibliothque nationale, Port Louis.
I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to Roselyne
Ithier for typing and preparing the manuscript.
It would be remiss of me not to thank my wife, Lyndsay Ann, for
her patience and tolerance during this research project.
To all who have assisted with the research for this book in
Mauritius and Rodrigues, I am most grateful.
To Messrs. Grard Hbrard, Sudesh Jeewon and Claude
Roussety for their invaluable assistance and kindness, I owe a
debt of gratitude.
And last but not least, I would like to thank the Board for
entrusting this important, yet enjoyable, research project to me.
Marc Serge Rivire,
Professor Emeritus, University of Limerick, Ireland.
Original painting by Sylvio de Lapeyere, 75x50 cm
Preface by the Honourable ivan Leslie collendavelloo gcsK, sc,
vice Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Public utilities
general Managers Message
the Dawn of Electrification in Mauritius (1880s1952)
the first Decade (19521962)
towards a greater equilibrium between Hydro and thermal
generation: second Decade (19631972)
a financially trying Decade (19731982)
resilience in dire financial straits: Meeting the challenge
of increased industrial demand (19831992)
a Decade of Democratisation and Decentralisation
in Production and Management (19932002)
on the right path to the future (20032012)
the start of a new decade (20132015): Ensuring the reliability,
quality and continuity of electricity supply
interview: Mr. francis Montocchio
table of contents
Ever since he discovered fire, Man has shown how his creative
brain could dominate the world. The Mauritian Genius is a telling
example of this characteristic of Man. This is why I am honoured
to write the preface to this History of Electricity in Mauritius.
Spanning a period starting in the 1880s and up to today,
electricity has played and continues to play a major role in our
economic and social development.
In February 2014, the CEB honoured one of the early pioneers
of electricity in Mauritius. Major Amode Ibrahim Atchia, with
his brothers, was largely responsible for setting up the original
Hydro Electric Power Station at Rduit in 1906 as well as another
station at Grand Port. In an unprecedented action, the C.E.B.,
with the approval of Government, renamed the Rduit Hydro
Electric Power Station as the Amode Ibrahim Atchia Hydro
Electric Power Station.
This event highlighted the great debt of gratitude which
Mauritius owes to many inventive ground-breakers in the
field of electricity. To name a few : Atchia, Fanucci, Adam (at
Tamarind Falls) in 1903, the Fatehmamode and Cader Families
in Rodrigues in the 1950s. With their sense of entrepreneurship,
practical intelligence and vision, these pioneers changed the
course of Mauritian history and laid the foundations for our
Today, 109 years after the Atchia Brothers launched their
project (1906), the C.E.B. has a nationwide, highly impressive
and reliable network, and has formed diversified and strong
partnerships with private energy producers, small, medium and
large. The role of renewable energy is now assuming increasing
significance, both in Mauritius and Rodrigues. Besides hydro
and bagasse, other renewable energy technologies, such as
solar and wind, have been successfully integrated into the grid
and contribute towards achieving Governments target of 35%
Preface the Honourable ivan Leslie collendavelloo, gcsK, sc, vice Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Public utilities
renewable energy in the energy mix by 2025. The implementation
of a Smart Grid and the sustained endeavour to provide a high
standard of customer service, are at the very heart of the C.E.B.s
vision for the future.
But all our accomplishments to date would not have been
possible without the goodwill and ceaseless exertion, over so
many decades, of thousands of employees, not mentioning the
sense of leadership and dedication demonstrated by members of
the Board. As we read Professor Serge Rivires well-researched
and well-presented History of Electricity, commissioned by
the C.E.B., we cannot but feel, as a nation, an immense sense
of pride at what the whole of C.E.B. staff, past and present,
have achieved. Mauritius is greatly indebted to them. Their
unflinching commitment towards the country especially in times
of crisis has helped to realize our socio-economic dreams. Their
collective patriotism needs to be glorified.
The History of Electricity in Mauritius since the 1880s, and
that of the C.E.B. since 1952, conveys the need for a perpetual
self-reinvention in order to meet an ever-growing demand for
affordable and environmentally sustainable energy, whilst coping
with unexpected vicissitudes thrown up by Mother Nature. I am
confident that the C.E.B. is endowed with the inherent capability
and highly-skilled personnel to respond to such challenges with
the support of its Board.
I am proud to be associated with this first comprehensive
History of Electricity in Mauritius published during my tenure
of Office as the Minister responsible for the portfolio of energy.
In this respect, one of my prime responsibilities is to ensure the
availability and reliability of electricity supply at an affordable
price, in line with C.E.B.s Mission. Although progress since 1952
has been exponential, we must acknowledge that much more
remains to be done, as is beautifully conveyed by the lines from
the celebrated Welsh poet, T.S. Eliot:
Time present and time past
And both perhaps present in the future,
And time future contained in the past.
(Four Quartets, Part 1, 1936)
In 1948, the Government requested that the Colonial Office set
up an investigation into electricity services in the Colony with
a view to preparing a Report and making recommendations
for improvement and development. By virtue of Ordinance 79
of 1951, the C.E.B. was first conceived at a time when private
companies only ran the Rduit Station (Mauritius Hydro Electric
Co.), the Cascade Ccile (Darn family), and the Tamarind Falls
Power Station (G.E.S. Co.). In keeping with the same Central
Electricity Board Ordinance, finally passed by the Legislative
Council in 1952 (No. 79), the Organisation was set up and started
operating with a Shadow Board on 12 August 1952. The Official
Board, itself, was formally constituted and met for the first time
on 8 December 1952.
The 1953 Annual Report of the C.E.B. listed the inaugural
members of the Board, with the dates when they took office:
A. R. Adam December 8, 1952.
Hon. H. J. Hinchey December 8, 1952.
G. Taylor December 8, 1952.
J. W. Larch December 8, 1952.
R. W. Knight April 8, 1953.
M. Paturau April 8, 1953.
The Central Electricity Board has therefore reached its sixty-third
year in December 2015. This project, by way of an illustrated
History of Electricity in Mauritius, has been undertaken, in part
at least, to pay homage to those pioneers and employees of the
early trying decades after the C.E.B.s inception. At the same
time, one must not forget the vital ground-work done by
precursors of the C.E.B., such as: (a) in Mauritius, the Mallac
Brothers (Adrien and Louis) who set up a small steam plant in
Curepipe in the 1880s; Major Amode Ibrahim Atchia and his
brothers, responsible for designing the original Hydro Power
Stations at Rduit and Grand Port; Messrs. Fanucci and
Adam, the pioneers of Tamarind Falls