HiStory of eLectricity in MauritiuS (1880–2015)ceb. of Electricity in... · History of Electricity

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  • 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.

    ISBN: 978-99949-0-270-5

    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.

    December 2015.


  • C.E.B. Curepipe

    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

    chairmans Message

    general Managers Message

    chapter 1

    the Dawn of Electrification in Mauritius (1880s1952)

    chapter 2

    the first Decade (19521962)

    chapter 3

    towards a greater equilibrium between Hydro and thermal

    generation: second Decade (19631972)

    chapter 4

    a financially trying Decade (19731982)

    chapter 5


    chapter 6

    resilience in dire financial straits: Meeting the challenge

    of increased industrial demand (19831992)

    chapter 7

    a Decade of Democratisation and Decentralisation

    in Production and Management (19932002)

    chapter 8

    on the right path to the future (20032012)

    chapter 9

    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

    modern society.

    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.

    (ex-officio member)

    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