Sweden grants US$4.5 million to empower local radios with ICT in Africa


Last February Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), concluded an agreement under which 30 million Swedish Kronor (around US$4.5 million) will be donated to UNESCO to support its activities in the field of community media, aiming at empowering poor populations, especially women and girls, to exercise freedom of expression and opinion, and be heard in the public debate.

For this purpose, the project will foster journalism in the local public interest, by building the capacities of local radios to make programmes in priority areas and acquire the editorial know-how to handle local news. By strengthening local radios, the project will contribute to foster media pluralism.

The project will be implemented in the following African countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mali, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. It will address people’s lack of access to information, particularly to news relevant to development and covered in a comprehensible language, such as information on health and agriculture, on the basic services available to them and, in general, on relevant social issues.

The project will make local and often humble radios aware of ICT as a tool for broadcasting and of the need to adapt to a fast evolving media environment, with new radio applications, devices and formats insight. The project will also help radios build platforms that include FM-broadcasting, mobile telephony and (when possible) Internet. Networks of local radio correspondents will be set up to strengthen information and communication to and from the local radios. This will result in more qualified programming and tailored local news for poor people. As transparent and accountable financial systems are a necessary condition for local radios’ sustainability, the project will focus as well on building radios’ competence for financial management.

Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), is one of UNESCO’s lead partners and donors providing support under a programme cooperation agreement covering four years (PCA 2010-2013) by means of critical multi-donor programmes such as CapEFA and the EFA Global Monitoring Report, as well as some trusts funds with UNESCO and institutional support. This contribution comes in addition to annual contributions under the above-mentioned PCA.