At a recent strategic meeting held in Yaounde, Cameroon, it was declared that Radio still reigns supreme over all other African mass media, including TV, internet, newspapers, and social and digital media.
African broadcasters said no more than 600 million of the continent’s more than 1.3 billion people have access to the internet, and even when they do, connectivity is either slow or too expensive for most of the continent’s poor, hungry civilians. Radio, however, remains a reliable and cheap medium for getting vital information.
Cameroon’s communications minister and government spokesperson, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, said Radio remains the most trustworthy medium for Africans, and African governments would not want to deprive citizens of that means of communication.
John Omo, secretary-general of the African Telecommunications Union, or ATU, participated in the Yaounde meeting. He said participants at the meeting plan to inform Africa’s international partners that neglecting radio broadcasting denies most of the continent’s population an essential tool for development.
“We are going to ensure that we send proposals meant to help Africa,” Omo said. “We have several areas of our continent that are still not connected to ICTs, and radio communication is the lifeblood. Without Radio, you can’t transport communication to our rural population.”
Omo said Radio connects listeners to their community. In times of emergency and disaster, which are frequent in Africa, Radio is one of the most potent and effective ways of delivering early warnings.
The broadcasters said 2023 online penetration in Africa is between 30% and 43%, below the global average of about 70%.
The broadcasters said they will identify close to 20,000 frequencies that can be used for FM broadcasting in Africa without harmful interference.
The ATU said that the number of people who trust and rely on radio information increases as the population increases. Adding the increase means there is pressure on the available radio frequencies, especially FM radio broadcasting.