Gambia: Journalists Launch Online Radio

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A group of Gambian journalists and pro-media freedom bodies in West Africa on Saturday launched Radio Alternative Voice (Radio AVG), an online radio which can be accessed on www.radioavg.com.

Organisers said the launch in Dakar was in response to "very limited media freedom" in their tiny West African country (see In Brief below). "We cannot continue to live in a country where divergent views cannot be expressed," said Amie Joof-Cole, a Dakar-based Gambian journalist and coordinator of the project.

"This is like a dream come true! I'm excited about the online radio and I hope it gives more voice to Gambians," he said. "Citizen FM has been closed down physically, but the voice of the people will continue to be heard," Joof-Cole said.

Citizen FM, a popular radio station in the Gambia, has been illegally closed down by the authorities. The new radio will partner some Senegalese private stations, whose signals reach the Gambia, until such time that it starts its own independent live broadcast. This will help reach out to the larger Gambian communities especially those without internet access or facilities.

The Radio AVG project aims to monitor and report on human rights issues in the Gambia, promote dialogue and free exchange of knowledge, among other issues.

The radio project is initiated in partnership with International Media Support (IMS), Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and Network Media Programme of the Open Society Institute (OSI). Others are Open Society Initiative for West Africa, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Africa Regional Office, Foroyaa and Inter Africa Network for Women, Media, Gender Equity and Development (Famedev).

(Freedom Newspaper (Raleigh, North Carolina), 13 January 2008)