Friday, March 14, 2014

Gambian blogger Mamadou Edrisa Njie writes about social media 'success story'

Is social media the next gold mine for Gambian youth?

Mamadou Edrisa Njie (R) photo: Facebook/Niani Edrisanjie Kanda
If someone had told me that a few years ago that using the social media will one day land me in a job, I would have totally disagreed with that person, be it an expert, a researcher or a fortuneteller. In fact, this wasn’t because I didn’t know what social media was all about but mainly because I was ONLY passionately on Facebook to chart with friends with some that I don’t know.

Here I am, [I] have signed a six month-contract with one of the best IT Service Providers in The Gambia to be its “Social Media Administrator”. A post I only knew existed during the signing of the contract.

Being born and brought up in the rural community of The Gambia where young people trek several kilometers to access internet to use the social media-Facebook and Skype, today, I count myself a one of the luckiest to have had the opportunity to access the social media anytime, anywhere thanks to an IPAD provided by Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) International.

Training counts a lot in life and it is the turn-key to potential opportunities, with great thanks to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Communications Division, me and some colleagues were given practical training on social media 101 on how to use Twitter, Google+, blog post and LinkedIn. I was particularly excited at this training opportunity and as a result, today I am a very happy young digitally connected person in and beyond my country.

My sincere gratitude and sincere appreciations goes to Moses Abukari (IFAD Country Programme Manager for The Gambia) who first help me to use an IPAD and encouraged me to be sharing agricultural and rural development stories focusing on rural youth; to Roxanna Samii (IFAD Manager Web, Knowledge and Internal Communication) and Roxy for exposing me to more social media (twitter, Google+, LinkedIn) at a training organized by GYIN Gambia for Gambian journalists, bloggers and online reporters at the Kairaba Beach Hotel prior to the IFAD 7th Regional Forum in Banjul in November 2012. Since then, I regularly participate in major public events and share information on social media platforms.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ have been my favorite’s social media. I have been using the following sites to communicate with the wider world on events happening in The Gambia and beyond with more attention on youth and development in rural areas.

Again, been among the leading bloggers in The Gambia, I manage my blog Mansa Banko

With the training and tools, my passion has been driven to reporting and sharing widely with issues of youth, agricultural development, development projects, environmental issues and more general news of public worthy. Sometimes, I feel nobody is reading or even aware of whatever I share with the public. I occasionally get feed-back from one or two peers or audience who say they like what am sharing with the public.

I only started realizing how valuable these little services of sharing information with the public were seen by some entities as opportunity to have wider outreach through real-time information flow. One opportunity led to another and this was the point that I said “is social media such a powerful tool to empower me economically?’’ and why me?

1. I have become the key media and communication focal points for all the IFAD-financed projects in the country.

2. So on 1st October, 2013,   I signed a contract with Biodiversity Action Journalists-Gambia (BAJ-Gambia) as their “ Online Manager”  to  manage their Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn platform for a period of one year. 

3. I also signed a contact with Nifty ICT Solutions in The Gambia for a six-month period as their “Social Media Administrator”.  This is what the portion of the contract reads… “To advance our strategy and execute more quickly, more efficiently, with greater excellence and profound learning, we need to transform how we organize, plan, work and collaborate. It is a big undertaking that changes our group structure, but will help us achieve our mission, in web designing, and training.

“You have been contracted as one of the individuals we feel has the capability, drive, and commitment to achieve Nifty ICT Solutions’ goals. We would like to welcome you to our team.

“Once again, we congratulate you in your new position and you will be responsible for developing and managing the relationship with the media, general public… and creates a strategy that will drive communications through social media pages - Facebook, and Twitter and other modes of distribution.

“We appreciate your tireless effort and dedication to Nifty ICT Solutions. We look forward to working with you in the upcoming year and ensuring the success of Nifty ICT Solution and a better life for young people.”

With these recognitions and tasks ahead, I have accepted these opportunities and will continue to remain committed to providing the invaluable services that for these institutions as well as to advocate and promote further opportunities for youth especially those in rural Gambia to embrace social media as means for their self-empowerment.

  • Mamadou Edrisa Njie is a Gambian journalist, blogger and youth activist.

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