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December 09, 2003Radio Ga-ga (2). We've talked about the role of radio at WSIS, but now we've discovered that Africa can expect a radio invasion, of sorts.
The radio may not be the top of the range kit, these days - but it is certainly a mighty weapon for rural folks in Africa hungry for information.
The glittering Geneva conference centre, the Palexpo where leaders from across the globe are gathering for WSIS has innumerable stands for ICT stakeholders but anyone who shares the vision of a people oriented communications policy for Africa will not fail to notice the combined back-facing-back stand(s) of the World Association of Community Radio And Broadcasters (AMARC), Catalysing access to ICT,s in Africa (CATIA) and PANOS.
Using the links of Inter world Radio (IWA), this team plan to have more community-based radio stations in Africa and they are serious about this.
Sameer Padania, network development manager with the Inter World Radio told Daily Summit "We believe that radio is the heart of information society". According to her, proliferation of rural radio has been pretty difficult in the past because "English is our medium but surely you know that you need local languages for this".
PANOS is currently building a network of stations in Africa after the Ugandan success. It is also working with two FM stations in Nigeria.
Speaking on the plan for Africa, the vice president of AMARC (north America) Elizabeth Robinson said the company is stepping up its media exchange programme throughout the continent. Its international office is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and is currently maintaining community radio stations in Mali, Senegal and some other countries in southern Africa. "Our plan now is to encourage more African countries to have community media", she added.
For Freda Werden, executive producer of Women International News Gathering Service, CATIA, AMARC, and PANOS working together now represents a positive sign for an African rural revolution.