eMERGING MEDIA: AFRICAN RADIO TAKES ONLINE ON THE AIR

1st Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Hubertus von Amelunxen (ISNM)

2nd Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Joachim Hasebrook (ISNM)

The purpose of this study was to find out the what radio represents to Africa, how it is used, what role the Internet plays in African radio development, and to explore the origins of African radio in order to understand current trends. In attempting to answer these questions, studies and literature written by those who have themselves practiced in the African radioscape had been sought and radioís ability to foster development, democracy, and community improvement was examined. It is generally agreed that ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) including the Internet can make substantial contributions to development, and that efforts to connect the third world should be supported. However, these efforts are not new and so far they have failed. While this thesis does not try to understand why these ICT initiatives failed, it does try to show that radio is the only mass media available at this moment to respond to the challenges that Africa faces. By presenting the history of radio in Africa and describing its evolution from colonial radio to cold war radio, post colonial radio, and up to itís current diverse forms and practices, this study seeks to discover the forces that still make up the current African radioscape. The most interesting form of radio, from the standpoint of achieving development and democratization is the participatory community radio. After reviewing key aspects of African radio such as radioís connection to oral culture, the importance of the audience and radioís relationship to community, community radioís origins and practices are discussed. It is suggested that while no two community radio stations are any more alike than any two communities are alike, community radio stations nevertheless have certain characteristics and capabilities that make them ideally suited for the African context, ideally suited to help the rural poor. Community radio can facilitate the introduction of new technologies and practices into its community Ė in particular the introduction of the internet. The possibility of introducing the Internet into a community through its community radio station is a powerful one as evidenced by several case studies. Finally the activities of the United Nations (UN) in Africa are examined, looking at both its peace keeping mission radio initiatives like Radio Okapi in the DR Congo and the daily rebroadcasts of its radio news programs from New York City to millions of Africans via radio stations in Africa. The UNís peacekeeping activities incorporate elements of community radio and use the internet. Given the enormous scope of the UNís activities in Africa it is important to understand itís impact and explore its potential to positively influence the African radioscape. This thesis primarily revolves around two findings. First that the most promising from of radio, one that has blossomed in the past few years in certain African countries, is participatory, local, community radio (by definition community radio is participatory and local). The second argument is that better even than community radio is community radio combined with the Internet.