Moka: Three Centuries of History

From a little village primarily concerned with producing coffee to a burgeoning smart city open to the world, Moka has changed over the years. Discover the timeline and key events that contribute to its rich history.

1749

Construction of the “Château du Réduit” by Governor David who apparently was head over heels for a Mokassian lass! Governor Magon would later expand the Château.

1762

The island is divided into 8 districts, one of which is Moka. Since 1773, the region has encompassed the l’Îlot du Réduit, Quartier Militaire and Quartier de la Montagne.

1790

First ascent of the Pieter Both by an amateur mountaineer, the Frenchman Claude Peuthé.

1817

Sugar becomes the main cash crop in Moka.

1821

Martial Henri René Noël, son of Breton migrants, starts cultivating cane in Moka. In doing this, he lays the founding stone of the ENL group. Six years later, he would go on to build the Mon Désert factory.

It’s all in the name

In the 18th century, the French East India Company and the government of Louis VX encouraged the production of exotic crops such as coffee. In 1721, the company introduced Arabian coffee plants from Moka – a port city on the Red Sea’s shores where (modern-day Yemen)- into Mauritius. In 1817, Moka was home to 41 acres of coffee plants, but the sugar cane industry boom brought an end to coffee cultivation in the region around 1827.

1830s

Sugar cane production sees exponential growth making landowners and officials focus on sugar plantations. In 1845, Mauritius produced up to 7% of the world’s sugar.

1850s

An epidemic across the island, affecting Port-Louis in particular, forces many inhabitants to move towards the high plateaus and a healthier environment. Notably, Moka.

1860s

Small business owners and hired workers can now acquire land. Many start settling in areas surrounding sugar plantations where they become market gardeners, shop owners, hardware store owners, etc. The creation of these businesses helped develop the village of Moka.

1864

Trains arrive in Mauritius helping those who want to move away from the capital and the coasts.

1874-75

Around 30 sugar factories open in the Moka region, of which 16 are considered of high importance. Moka’s population increases significantly.

1880

Inauguration of the Moka Railway linking Moka and Flacq.

1882

The Sugar Company of Mon Désert is incorporated to revitalise the Moka region.

1947

Mon Désert Alma Ltd is incorporated following the centralisation of Alma’s sugar activities in Mon Désert

1949

Moka sugar factories start to settle around the FUEL area.

1970

The ENL Group shows its generosity by donating land for the creation of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute (MGI).

1989

The Espitalier Noël Ltd group and its subsidiaries - in particular the sugar companies of Savannah and Mon Désert Alma - are listed on the brand new Stock Exchange of Mauritius.

1990

Opening of the Bocage International School on Montagne Ory.

1993

The “École du Centre” opens in Helvetia Saint-Pierre. In 1995, the school counted 450 primary school students who were later joined by 300 other secondary school students in 1996.

2007

Espitalier Noël Ltd reviews its land strategy and opts for real estate development. The decision enables it to increase the returns on its assets. ENL Property was created to manage this new area of activity, and several other commercial projects in Moka, Helvétia and Saint-Pierre. It was also at this time that the Bagatelle Integrated Development was launched and that the Mon Désert Alma plant ceased its operations.

2009

Savannah Sugar Estates Ltd and Mon Désert Alma Limited merge under the banner of ENL Land Ltd, whose land in the south and centre of the island is set aside for cane cultivation and real estate development.

The Wellkin Hospital (originally known as Apollo Bramwell), created by the British American Hospitals Enterprise Ltd opened in August 2009. Today, Wellkin is the largest modern private clinic in Mauritius.

Launch of the region’s first integrated project, “Les Allées d’Helvétia”, comprises three residential phases (duplexes and apartments), a sports and well-being centre (Synergy), and a shopping centre.

2011

The Head Office of the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) leaves Forest side for Moka.

Opening of the Bagatelle mall and the Voilà Bagatelle business hotel and the inauguration of Island Living (initially ENL Lifestyle). Bagatelale is an immediate success!

2012

Opening of Kendra Shopping Centre.

August 2013

Inauguration of the St-Pierre bypass which helps ease the traffic in Moka’s main highway (A7).

December 2013

Inauguration of the country’s second motorway (M3): Terre-Rouge - Verdun which connects Moka to the north of the country without having to go through Port-Louis.

March 2014

Opening of the Verdun - Ebène section on the M3 motorway as well as the connection to Valentina.

July 2014

Inauguration of the new Moka District Court building.

2017

The ENL group joins the Smart City Scheme - a program launched by the government, for the development of its land in Moka. This development lays the foundations for the Moka Smart City.

Mai 2018

Inauguration of the new market in St Pierre.

2020

Today, ENL is the custodian of 23,000 acres of strategically and sustainably managed land.

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