My web 2.0 and social media journey in a Small Island Country

By Annisha Victor, senior system support officer, Seychelles Fishing Authority

My recent participation in a series of CTA-supported capacity building events has changed my mindset on social media and has developed my skills in using these tools to undertake my daily tasks more effectively. The training programme has enabled me to become a social media trainer to share my knowledge and skills with colleagues and other beneficiaries.

My journey began in February 2015 at the 'Web 2.0 and Social Media Learning Opportunity' training held at the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).The participants were introduced to selected web 2.0 and social media applications which enable users to collaborate to create and exchange information online. Two energetic facilitators, Mr Nicholas Kimolo from Kenya and Ms Maureen Agena from Uganda, made the training very lively and informative. I became more passionate about digital technology and in particular social media.

An opportunity to improve my skills further came as a result of being nominated by the Seychelles Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (MoFA), the parent agency of the SFA, to attend the UNITAR/FAO/CTA distance learning course 'Innovative Collaboration for Development (ICfD)'. ICfD is a wonderful programme which focuses on social media for professional purposes. With financial support provided by CTA, and with determination in my heart, I was able to successfully complete the course.

After completing the ICfD course, I started helping colleagues by sharing information about different web 2.0 and social media tools and the CTA-supported 'Web 2.0 and social media learning opportunities' held in Victoria, the Seychelles capital, during 2015. After learning about the amazing benefits, my colleagues were keen to participate in the training.

Since I performed well in the UNITAR distance learning course, I was invited to be involved as co-trainer during the second 'Web 2.0 and Social Media Learning Opportunity'. With great enthusiasm, I facilitated sessions with the support of Nicholas Kimolo. Despite my initial fear to stand in front my peers, with the cooperation of the participants, I was able to conduct the sessions to the best of my ability.

Furthermore, I had the privilege of facilitating the third 'Web 2.0 and Social Media Learning Opportunity' with the help of a fellow Seychellois colleague. With great determination, I took up the challenge. Indeed, it was not an easy task. However I am grateful as the opportunity has built my self-confidence.

Being an information and technology specialist, I feel that in the past I did not use social media effectively. However, through these capacity building events, I have increased my knowledge in using a range of tools and their applications. For example, I am amazed by the GoogleDrive Form which enables users to prepare and administer an online questionnaire in a short period of time. In addition, Google Drive, Blogger and Facebook are platforms I now use actively.

Having had this very fruitful experience, I am now helping my organisation to institutionalise web 2.0, whilst demonstrating the value of social media. With the rapid growth of the 'digital natives' generation, I believe that assessing the potential for the professional use of social media will help to influence the mindset of the 'above-50-generation' who usually attach negative connotations to youths' use of social media.

Thanks to the knowledge I have gathered, I am now better equipped to help SFA create, share and access information via social media. In addition, during the UNITAR distance learning course, I drafted an SFA social media strategy. My output, together with my colleagues who attended the same course, contributed to the design of a Ministry-wide social media strategy which was developed with the assistance of CTA at the end of 2015.

My first project under the new strategy was to create an audience on Facebook as this is the most active social media platform in the Seychelles. We therefore created a Facebook page`to share information. A Facebook group has also been created for the MoFA's employees to develop their online skills.

Those who benefitted from the three digital capacity building sessions are currently supporting the MoFA in using web 2.0 and social media applications to exchange information more effectively. Personally, I would like to organise training to increase the number of people, external to the ministry, skilled in the use of social media tools. I plan to coordinate workshops to share the potential of social media in improving productivity and sustainability in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

On a final note, this initiative, including multimedia production, will help to improve the MoFA and its agencies' public image and incentivise farmers and fishermen to produce more local products and sustain national food security. Furthermore, enhanced web services are likely to strengthen the link between suppliers and consumers. I expect all this to drive the development of more local markets with high quality and affordable products for our nation.

 

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