28 August 2009



A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without the permission or knowledge of the owner. This program is a problem to we Africans because of many of us don't know what it means and what it does too. But a virus is a very serious infection to computers, so that when the virus affects the computer, it makes it not perform as it should do. The main thing is that you easily lose all your documents specially people who used USB; as you know technology is advanced now so many people use USB to saved their files on it and it's easy to handle files and it's easy to access as you have computer. So please, I am applying to all the internet holders to try and download anti-virus to their system so USB users wouldn't infect their office, school computers or lose documents, because most students go to the internet cafe to research some of their assignment or do work as they don't have much time at school

15 August 2009


Computer viruses in The Gambia

These are the musings of the Pageant Webmaster, and in no way represent any Pageant policy.

The Virus Problem
Many people donate their old computers for use in developing countries, and we at Pageant know of several Gambian people and educational establishments who use such computers. However, until I read a recent article in the Guardian Technology supplement, I hadn't considered the consequences of viruses. This article is concerned with Ethiopia, but the main points are probably valid for large parts of Africa. I recommend that you read it, and also look at the very useful comments at the end. [link to the article] It seems that around 80% of all computers are infected with viruses or other malware, and large numbers of these computers have been rendered unusable, after a virus destroyed vital files.

The problem seems to be due to a shortage of anti-virus software. A typical anti-virus package can cost each user £30 a year, a large sum in terms of the local average income. Also packages from brand leaders like Symantec and McAfee are large, and have large update files to be downloaded on a daily basis. Broadband is very rare in The Gambia, and most people with internet access use a dial-up service. Downloading the update files could take a whole day, so these products are not really suitable for users in The Gambia, even if they could afford them.

Free anti-virus products are a bit better. To start with they are free. They also tend to be basic stripped down versions, with smaller file sizes – typically around 30Mb. They could be downloaded on a dial-up connection in about 2 hours, but this is still a bit of a pain. The updating files are also smaller. Even if an anti-virus program is not kept up to date, it will still provide a huge amount of protection, as many of the viruses in circulation are up to 10 years old.

What can we here in the richer countries do to help?
Firstly here are some links to free anti-virus programs:
AVG I used to use the AVG free version before upgrading to a paid for version, and fully recommend it. However, note that the initial download of 800kb is just an installation program, which then downloads the rest.
Avasti I have no knowledge of this, but it is highly recommended.
Avira Again highly recommended.
All these are free for non-commercial home use, and I would not in any way suggest that users in The Gambia did not adhere to these terms and conditions. It would be nice if the makers of these packages could extend free use to everyone in developing countries.
Next, if you are going to The Gambia soon, what about downloading one of these anti-virus programs, copy it onto a CD (or even a memory stick) and take it with you. Taking pens, notebooks etc. is now a widespread practice, so why not add a few CDs?

Let us know what you think.
Please email me with your comments, using the website feedback form on this link.
To our readers in The Gambia – please tell us about how computer viruses affect you.
To our readers in the UK or anywhere else – please tell us what you think of the CD idea, and could you suggest better ways of tackling the virus problem.

11 August 2009



West African Insurance Institute on Friday 7th August 2009 awarded scholarships to five essay finalist to study insurance at its headquarters in Kotu South, The Gambia.
It could be recalled that WAII organised an essay competition on the theme "Insurance and educational development in The Gambia". A total of thirty three students submitted essays from across the country out of which five best have been selected by a central committe set up by the institute to sieve the best out of the lot.
Speaking at the ceremony the director of the instute, Dr. Prince Mike Okupolati, thanked participants for responding to the initiative by putting pen to paper to write.
The aim of the project he said "is to raise awareness about the existence and work of the institute which is based in The Gambia but however not many Gambians know about it."
According to him, since the inception of the institute in 1993 it has not been known to many Gambians, which is why they launched the initiative; not only to encourage better knowledge about the institute but also to encourage Gambians to study insurance which is a noble profession.
Also speaking at the scholarship award ceremony, the chairman of the central committee for the essay competition Mr. Abdoulie Touray, who was once the head of the governing council of the Gambia University, said that they were amazed at the quality of writing they came across during their assessment. He also urged the participants to nurture their writing skills and keep reading books.
The five winners of the scholarship are Sainabou Bojang of Methodist High School, Sainey N.K. Darboe of Nusrat, Imran Njie of Glory Baptist and Emily and Abigel Gomez, both of whom come from St Joseph High School.
Sainey Darboe, speaking to Pageant news blog shortly after winning the scholarship, said that he was so happy to win it and thinks he is now even with Alhassan (his twin brother) who back in March won the Black History month essay competition.
WAII website