Friday, November 26, 2010

Social Media - Over 40,000 Gambians on Facebook

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- As many as 40,000 Gambians are currently registered on the popular social networking website called Facebook, with a majority of them said to be young people from all walks of life in the country.
This figure was revealed during the Information Technology Association of the Gambia (ITAG) forum on 2 November 2010.

The forum supported by the West African Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) was held at the Paradise Suites Hotel.

Poncelet Ileliji president of ITAG, and Gabriel Latjor Ndow, a private consultant, presented papers at the face-to-face forum, which was organised by ITAG in collaboration with WAIGF.

According to Ileliji, the number of Gambians on Facebook has caused great concern. He said many have been tying the knot through the web site, but that many marriages have also been divorced through Facebook.

He added that the social web site has made many office workers to be lazy in performing their duties, since they login to the web site during working hours in their offices.

“In fact, as early as 8 a.m. some office workers will be busy doing nothing, but only login to Facebook. Some cannot even attend to their customers during working hours, because of their attention given to the web site,” he stated.

The ITAG president further noted that, “if the trend is not given a uturn, it will greatly make many Gambians, especially the youths, to be too lazy at the office”.

He added that it is not proper for one to be browsing on such a social web site during working hours, and condemn the practice as a menace.

Mr. Ileliji further stated that due to the lack of an Internet policy in offices, with many requiring staff to be self-regulatory, the trend of such “nasty” act will continue.

He suggested that offices adopt Internet policies.

Adding his voice, Mr. Ndow agreed that many offices are seriously affected by the problem of staff logging in on Facebook and other social networking sites.

He also gave figures on the 2009 GSM subscribers in the Gambia.

Consultant Ndow said that, as at 2009, the GSM subscribers are as follows: Africell 636,000 which tops the list, followed by Gamcell 318,960, Qcell the latest GSM operator had 200,000 and Comium 145,000 subscribers in 2009.

He also gave the estimate of the percentage of the population with access to a computer in the country as follows: urban 7.71 percent and rural 1.06 percent.

The percentage of the population with access to the Internet, according to Mr. Ndow, is: urban 5.01 percent, and rural 0.24 percent.

The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communication technology, Jamal Micknas, officially declared the forum opened.

He said, among other things, that his ministry is looking into the challenges of the internet.

Mr. Micknas said that the ministry in collaboration with Gamtel signed a construction and maintenance agreement with the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable project.

The ACE project, he said, is geared towards addressing the issue of international bandwidth, and that access to the submarine cable will be through landing stations in the Gambia and other participating countries.

He also announced that Gamtel is embarking on implementing the Next Generation Network Project, to replace and upgrade the existing transmission network.

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