UNESCO opened the first intensive training workshop for future managers of community multimedia centres (CMCs) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, this week. CMCs combine local radio and community telecentre facilities to offer digital opportunities to poor and marginalised communities. The two-week "training of trainers" workshop brings together community radio directors from Burkina, Mali and Benin. Their radio stations are candidates for transformation into CMCs under UNESCO's programme for CMC development in Africa financed under Swiss Funds-in-Trust.
In the workshop, participants study CMC activities, equipment, organisation and management and prepare a business plan. The training, organised by Intermedia Consultants, is taking place in the digital radio training centre of CIERRO (Centre Interafricain d'Etudes en Radio Rurale de Ouagadougou) and in the Gambidi cultural centre in an outlying neighbourhood of Ouagadougou, Dassasgho.
The Gambidi centre, launched some five years ago under UNESCO's "Culture in the Neigbourhood" programme, houses the first CMC to be set up under the new programme for Africa. It has received a radio suitcase (a complete broadcasting and production unit), four high-speed computers and other digital equipment from UNESCO. Radio Gambidi obtained its license last week and goes on air with community broadcasting in several languages on 1st October.
In the training workshop, telecentre managers from the UNESCO-backed community telecentre in Timbuktu, Mali and a private telecentre in Ouagadougou have given the radio directors full briefings on telecentre management.
Participants in the workshop are also receiving training in radio-browsing techniques. This is an original programme format in which presenters first identify websites containing information meeting their listeners' queries and needs. During the programme, the presenters "browse" the website and discuss its contents with a local expert, explaining Internet and its resources as they go along. CMCs which already broadcast these programmes have considerably raised awareness within their communities of the value of on-line resources, encouraging even the illiterate to seize new digital opportunities.