Radio and Development in Africa. A Concept Paper Prepared for the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada
Radio is still the dominant mass-medium in Africa with the widest geographical reach and the highest audiences compared with television (TV), newspapers and other information and communication technologies (ICTs). The role of radio as a development tool in Africa is examined. The different types of radio stations (state-controlled public radio, privately-owned commercial radio, community-controlled radio and international radio) and their value in reaching and empowering the poor are considered.
This report identifies and discusses the issues of gender and minority access and inclusion in radio broadcasting; the issue of inciting violence and radio's 'double-edged' nature in vulnerable societies; the whole question of sustainability and whether or not developmental - and/or 'public-service' - radio is a viable concern from an economic standpoint. Underlying all these questions remains the challenge of how precisely to measure the impact of radio; finding appropriate methodological tools and forums to do so; and the problem of defining and researching behaviour change. Future developments are likely to include internet-based radio, pod-casting and listening via mobile devices such as MP3 players. Systematic and reliable data on the radio sector is underdeveloped or non-existent. This is hampering commercial and aid investment. It is valuable to understand better the state of play of 'traditional' radio, as this will help to improve understanding of the potential impacts that can be had from enhancing the medium with the use of ICTs. Specific research is suggested in relation to the need for baseline data, impact evidence, and forecasting of future trends.
M. Myers, Wardour, Wiltshire, UK, 55 pp. [2008, revised 2009]