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West Africa: Group Raises Concern over Social Media
Source: today.gm
Source Date: Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Created: Nov 04, 2010

The Information Technology Association of the Gambia (ITAG) yesterday organized a one-day face-to-face forum on ‘West Africa Internet Governance Forum’ to discuss on how to enhance Information Communication and Technology in the country.

The  forum, which was held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi, brought together participants from government institutions, students, media practitioners, private institutions among others.

“We are living in a global village and we can only address it by looking at what internet governance is all about within the structures of Internet,” the president of ITAG, Poncelet Ileleji said.

According to him, there is need for media people and stakeholders to be embedded for the sake of humanity to address issues that are very close to them.

He added: “We have protocols that guide us on the Internet and we also have our ICT infrastructures.”

“We have to realize that it is only 1992 that the first SMS text message was sent and children that are being born today are considered as digital natives.”

Mr Ileleji went on to say that it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million people, TV 13 years to reach 50 million, the Internet 4 years to reach 50 million people, and  Ipod which are the new phones took 2 years to reach 50 million people. According to him, the social media has a role to play to whatever is being done today, saying that in as much as the Internet operates, people need self-regulation.

He also said that  lot of offices in the country still do not have Internet policies as the staff would be browsing on Facebook or watching movies during working hours, thereby neglecting their customers or duties.

While noting that the ministry of Basic and Secondary Education is about to introduce local languages to be taught in schools, the ITAG president suggested that Portuguese should also be incorporated in the school syllabus.

He further urged the people not to disregard the ‘darass’ (Arabic schools) as they are ‘very important’.

The ITAG president finally called on the Gambian people to join the West African internet Governance the Gambia mailing list on waigf-gambia@waigf.org.

In his response, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure Jamal Miknas described the forum as the first of its kind in the country, noting that it complements governments’ effort in putting the Gambia on the world ICT map amongst other things.

He disclosed that the government has taken giant strides in addressing Internet accessibility in the country through the Ministry.

“In our quest to address the perennial issues of our international bandwidth, the ministry with Gamtel have signed the construction and maintenance agreement of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) Submarine cable project,” PS  Miknas noted.

The ACE project, he said, is geared towards addressing the issue of international bandwidth and accessibility in The Gambia by providing direct access to submarine cables through landing stations in The Gambia and other participating countries.

On the national front, he explained, the incumbent telecom operators, Gamtel is embarking on implementing the Next Generation Network project (NGN) to replace and upgrade the existing defunct transmission network.

“It is our conviction that all relevant stakeholders will team up to ensure successful implementation of an Internet Exchange Points for The Gambia,” he said. 
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