At a time when countries around the world are reaping the fruits of ICT, It is commendable that The Gambia government is increasing investment in this area for national development. It is one area that this country has come in leaps and bounds since the dawn of the new millennium.
The gains scored in ICT have moved a notch further this week with the launching of a programme called Connect-a-school; connect-a-community initiative in Bakau. The development is a remarkable one, given the way in which telecentres were the answer to the ICT needs of most Gambians some few years ago.
Thankfully, this World Bank funded initiative formed part of government’s development vision of strengthening the sharing of relevant and timely information as well as contribute to national development through employment creation. That is a fitting affair, for the ICT sector remains one of the leading providers of job especially for young people in varying forms.
Communities like Bakau with their many educational and tourism opportunities should be able to tap into the multiple benefits of this project; from harnessing its potential to promoting cross cultural exchange and linkages to using the development as a platform to scale up commerce/business online.
More fittingly is the fact that the six centres across the country are poised to provide ICT access to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups primarily women, persons with disabilities to name but few.
However, whilst this intervention comes to address the issue of distance and time when it comes to accessing ICT services, it would be meaningless unless and until it is used for the intended purpose. It is true that services like scanning, photocopying and printing would now come handy for the locals but using these facilities to indulge in vices associated with the darker side of the Internet and other forms of cyber crime should not be indulged in.
Students should take full advantage of the project by way of exploring the unlimited educational and technological benefits of the Connect-a-school; connect-a-community initiative. Initiatives like this should be replicated in greater numbers for greater impact.