Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Rural Community Radio in Africa

DSC_0265 Tuareg radio deejay

It’s not true if the radio doesn’t say it.

That was a reply from a rural Liberian farmer to Malcolm Joseph, the managing director of the Center for Media Studies in Liberia. He shared that with me as I discussed the way communication has happened between the media and the public here over the past few years. It’s an interesting challenge, trying to marry up communication channels and technology mediums to be as effective as you can be across a varied and spread out demographic.

Radio is important. It’s still the main way that rural groups get their news. Newspaper circulation drops drastically outside of the cities. While many countries have at least a couple of radio stations of national reach, you still find a number of smaller radio stations that work within districts, down to the the real rural community radio stations that operate with a 5-10 kilometer radius.

The question we have to ask ourselves is, how do we connect better through this medium? It’s not good enough to just say that, “mobile phone coverage is good enough”. Even though the mobile coverage might be good, the credibility and community-inclusiveness of even a small radio station means that it cannot be ignored when trying to reach ordinary Africans. Add in illiteracy rates, which are typically higher in rural areas, and it becomes even more important.

Not ever web or mobile service needs to consider this, but we all need to think better on how to integrate radio into the mobile and web world in Africa. This isn’t just a post for aid and development groups either, it’s for people who want to create digital services that reach beyond African urban settings.

More thoughts and resources:


  1. “It’s not true if the radio doesn’t say it” rings a haunting chord when I think about Rwanda in 1994 where radio played such a frightening role in the genocide. It emphasises more than ever the importance of turning radio into an interactive, participatory medium using complementary technologies.

    • @Steve Song – Great reminder and example.

      @Bertie – I’m not sure how I forgot Farm Radio, but have added the link. Thanks.

  2. Radio has a long history in Africa. Both good and bad. In development, you may want to look at the work of Geekcorps Mali as well. They’ve been installing Internet-enabled radio stations in the North for a few years now to great success.

  3. Matt Berg (ex-Geekcorps Mali director) has a great article on Leveraging Internet for Radio as well.

  4. There’s broadcast radio and then there are radio sets. . The mash up between radio and telephone goes way back, talk radio being just the most obvious. Small MP3 players can be connected to tiny transmitters to broadcast a short distance to a radio set to share the content. Many MP3 players are also digital voice recorders, or can be made so. These devices have potential like telephones to make radio a many to many medium.

    Lots of people are involved agricultural extension and disease prevention efforts. Podcasts to radio sets are a viable way to distribute such information–and much more. I could imagine radio stations facilitating the making of podcasts. There are many possibilities for mash up. For example a farmer’s group listens to a podcast with agricultural information. In addition to listening they might have the opportunity to ask questions or add information via the digital recorder feature of the MP3 player. In turn a broadcast radio program then has content so they can listen to the audience, and content they can share from the audience in broadcast. Radio stations are a key link for digital information in Africa.

  5. Dude, this is a beautiful image.

  6. Matteo Ghidoni

    March 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Hello my name is Matteo Ghidoni and i would like to llaborate whit your radio. I’m planning a long travel around the world an i never visted your fashinating country. I whish you ‘ll find my profile interesting.
    Here attached my C.V.:


    FIRST NAME: Matteo
    SURNAME: Ghidoni
    CURRENT ADDRESS: zeedijk straat 97, Amsterdam , Netherlads
    ( via Fossarmato 24, 27100, Pavia, Pv, Italy)
    TEL. NUMBER: +39 348 776 3564 (Italian)
    E-MAIL ADDRESS: mattighidoni@hotmail.com

    NATIONALITY: Italian
    DATE OF BIRTH: 11th August 1982
    PLACE OF BIRTH: Genova, Italy
    MARITAL STATUS: unmarried


    I consider myself an open-minded person who feels at ease in a challenging and dynamic environment. At the same time I am self-sufficient and I have pro-active/hands-on approach towards problems and responsibilities.
    Very important to me is the psychology of communication and interpersonal relations. I possess excellent communication skills, both verbal and written and I demonstrated to have well developed planning and organizational capabilities. I have a positive and flexible attitude. I am able to work under initiative as well as a motivating part of a team driven by a team-result.
    I can work under pressure in demanding circumstances and I have a high level of professionalism, reliability/confidentiality and personal presentation at all times.
    I understand cultural differences and I can easily adapt accordingly.
    I am always eager to learn and grow.
    I have always loved music. Since when I was a child, I grew up playing instruments and listening radio and records.

    May 08-Currently employed
    RAI, radiotelevisione italiana, Roma
    Bands and songs selector
    Listen records received by the radio programme “Demo” of Radio Uno Rai -Totally dedicated to the emerging bands- evaluation of the better records received and selection of the songs to wire in the broadcast daily transmission “Demo” of Radio Uno Rai.

    May 08-Currently employed
    RAI, radiotelevisione italiana, Roma
    Concerts organizer
    Organize concerts and Presenting the company – RAI (radiotelevisione italiana) the most important radio in Italy- in some important independent music shows as the “Primo Maggio a Lamezia Terme ” of the 1st May 2008, The “Lamezia Demofest” o the 24th, 25th and 26th of July 2008 and The “Premio Seledoro” of the 10th,11th and 12th of September 2008, wanted and promoted by the radio programme “Demo” of Radio uno RAI.
    Preparing and working out the concerts in direct collaboration with senior management and with the bands, public relations at large in Italian, Spanish and English.

    January 08 – June 08
    RAI, radiotelevisione italiana, Roma
    Web sites maintenance trainee
    Work in the editorial staff of the daily program “Demo” of Radio Uno, RAI. Updating and maintaining the web site of the transmission- the most visited of Radio Uno – and creation of the mySpace of the program. Prepare and organize the songs purposed in the various episodes.

    March 07 – Currently employed
    Elite 2 s.r.l. , vicolo dell’Umiltà, Roma
    Selection and mixing of the songs purposed in the night club Elite 2, of Rome. Organization of the various shows purposed every night in the club. Interaction with customers in English, Spanish and Italian in one of the oldest and famous night clubs in town.

    January 04 – December 06
    Black out s.r.l. , Pavia
    Responsible of night events
    Preparing night events, from the selection and the contacts with the djs to the public relations to promote the night shows in the Dalì Lounge bar, the most important club of Pavia.

    November 05 – March 06
    Studio Legale Morani , Pavia
    Events organization and data base maintainance trainee
    Internship during 5 months of full-time work (Aug 05-Gen 06) in Promoart Association in Pavia including the organization of an exposition of modern art, creating the web site, updating the database and the archive of artists.

    January 2003 – november 2003
    Telesurvey S.r.l., Milano
    Call center operator
    Doing market researches, using telephone and Pc, for some important companies as “Regione Piemonte”, “Comune di MIlano” and “Telecom Italia”, the most important italian telecomunication company.

    January 2001 – December 2003
    Ganesh Music Center, Milano
    Shop Assistant
    Shop assistant in the music instruments shop Ganesh Music Center, of Via Felice casati, in Milan. Selling music instruments and having public relations with the customers in Italian and English in the first second hand music instruments shop in Milan.


    -Master in languages, marketing and production of the radio (2 years studies). Università di Roma La Sapienza and Rai – Radiotelevisione Italiana. June 2008. Note 108/110

    -Bachelor Degree in Communication Science (3 years studies); Social-Economical studies. December 2006. Università degli Studi di Pavia – Italy. Note 97/110

    -University course in “History of the contemporary Italian songs” with the Professor and famous Italian singer, Roberto Vecchioni. Università degli Studi di Pavia. 2006.

    -University course in “classic and new oratory”. Università degli Studi di Pavia. 2006.


    Italian: mother tongue; English: fluent (written and spoken); Spanish: fluent (written and spoken).


    Good command of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint).
    Basic knowledge of audio editing and graphic design applications (Netia, Audacity, Adobe Illustrator, PhotoShop, Macromedia Flash, Adobe Prémière); basic Knowledge of HTML, basic knowledge of Java Script.


    Travelling: I had an exciting experience in summer 2001 living in Brasil for two months. Good memories also of New York, Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. I traveled a lot during all my life, even because part of my family lives in Holland, Spain, Great Britain, New York and Argentina. I am planning voluntary work in South America.
    Art: visiting museums and expositions.
    Music: Since March 1999 I play guitar and I write songs for a rock and roll band “I Lobello”, we are preparing our 4th album.
    I played for four years in the Samba orchestra “Mitoka Samba” the first Italian samba orchestra.
    Since May 2007 I write and anchor the radio program “Swen” in the Radio Of The “Università Roma La Sapienza”, Radio Sapienza.


    Michael Pergolani Radio Uno Rai. +39 3381218575
    Paola Scarsi Radio tre Rai +39 3473804307

    Thank you,

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