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Radio Ada, the Voice of Those Without a Voice
© Drawing by Christian Roux
A small radio station 120 miles from the Ghanaian capital is transformed into a community multimedia centre
The traditional apatam, the external reception area, serves as a recording studio at Radio Ada. This small radio station, heard on 93.3 FM, and located in Ada, 120 km east of Accra, the capital of Ghana, broadcasts “The Voice of the Dangme People,” the country’s third largest linguistic group. It is also the first of a dozen stations in the country to become a UNESCO-funded community multimedia centre (CMC).

“The CMC gives the population access to useful information about global warming, for example. In recent years, the sea has gained four metres on the shoreline,” says Radio Ana’s Manager, Kofi Lamweh. He sees the station as the “voice of those without a voice”. His “community service” mission consists of providing information on international events or on the price of fish in the local markets, as well as in promoting national cohesion and protecting the Dangme cultural heritage.

Starting operations

© Drawing by Christian Roux
Radio Ada broadcasts from a gleaming little house. The renovation work is almost completed, the smell of fresh paint lingers in the air. As soon as the centre gets its internet connection, its five computers will be operational. With its staff of 15 paid employees and 50 volunteers of all ages, the centre has the long-term goal to “create a team of trainers for the four local stations” implanted in the area to service a potential audience of 500,000. “It’s like a selfreproducing cell,” says Kofi Lamweh.

For now, he says “the priority is digital production”, which means training in basic computer skills, from scanner to desktop publishing. The responsibility of this task rests on 18-yearold Chinedu, self-taught computer expert who is in charge of training. “He has even developed a software programme that we use for music programming,” says the station manager. For the moment, six of Chinedu’s eight students are adults, but younger people are starting to follow. “Through the music, through reggae, they are becoming interested in what we do,” Chinedu says shyly.

“In terms of training, the community centres are more efficient than regional or national workshops, because follow-up can be problematic,” says Hezekiel Dlamin advisor for communications and information in the Accra UNESCO Office. He says that “nearly 20 centres per country will be established soon.” This initiative will supplement the one and only cybercafé in Ada, which opened this summer, and it will save future web surfers a 60 km trip to find the nearest internet connection.

But in a country where 40% of the population over the age of six has never been to school and only 3% has attended university, where the informal economy dominates, the priority for education policy remains “achieving literacy and teacher training” rather than “specific internet training,” explains Boubacar Camara, education specialist at the UNESCO Office Accra. In order to provide “equitable access to quality education,” he says, education policy must include information and communications technologies (ICT). The government is striving to meet this goal and even organized, in Accra in February 2005, the Second Africa Preparatory Conference, a regional conference preparing the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Together with the Education Ministry and the Universities of Cape Coast and Winneba, the UNESCO Office in Accra, in 2004, implemented a training programme for trainers with an emphasis on computer skills. “Over a thousand people have already benefited from it,” says Boubacar Camara. In December 2004, a workshop was also held at the University of Ghana at Legon on the free operating system Linux, bringing together about 15 universities. Further initiatives include a programming contest for secondary school students organized on February 26, 2005 by the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, flagship of the Ghanaian educational system. The winner was presented with a mobile phone while the winner’s school gained a computer. These types of initiatives should, in coming years, contribute to training new battalions of Chinedus.

Internet Users in the World
Enlarge image
Source: Internet World Stats, 2005
See also:
  • Country Profile : Ghana
  • Radio Ada goes on the air
        UNESCO Webworld news archive - May 1999
  • In Focus
        UNESCO and Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs)
  • Author(s): 
    Stéphane Auvray
    Europe and North America Latin America and the Caribbean Africa Arab States Asia Pacific