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Rural Communication: A Strategic Link for Poverty Alleviation in Niger

Djilali Benamrane, Economist, Niamey/Niger, September 18, 2000

Information and communication are vital in many social and economic human activities. In the recent years, scientific and technological advances provide populations living in urban and rural areas with innovative tools, increasing their productivity, ameliorating their access to basic social needs and reinforcing their involvement especially in Poverty alleviation and local good governance matters.

In Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world regarding its ranking in the UNDP Human Development Annual Report (173 of 174 selected countries in the World Report 2000), all partners in development, civil society, government, public and private operators, donors, NGOs are involved in a partnership process, aiming at providing rural populations with access to New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The ongoing experience is undertaken in the framework of "RURANET/ICD" : Rural Radio Network and Information Centers for Development.

1. A Global and Participatory Approach

RURANET/ICD is a cooperative effort made in a participatory approach, involving Nigerien at the national and local levels, International institutions and non governmental organizations, providing resources and expertise in order to meet the rural population needs concerning the access to information and communication for economic and social development focused on poverty alleviation and on the empowerment of rural population to contribute to the building of good governance at the local and the national level.

Activities of the RURANET/ICD initiative include:

2. A Long Term Strategy

In the framework of the National Strategy for Poverty alleviation and of the National Communication Policy that the Government is finalizing respectively with Bretton Woods Institutions and with UNICEF and FAO, RURANET/ICD is an initiative which required many years for its achievement. Since the starting point in Summer 1999, three main phases have been identified.

3. Ambitious Goals

RURANET/ICD initiative aims at providing rural population with real capacity to access and master new information and communication technologies. The ownership of local radio broadcasting will enable voiceless rural populations to take part and contribute to the national, regional et local debates, especially on a development focused on the poverty alleviation, decentralization and good governance issues.

Progressive local capacity bulding in the sectors of information and communication will facitilate the on-going negociation aiming at setting up an Up Link in Niamey. Thanks to the Up-Link, selected programmes will be broadcasted through the satellite Afristar. After that it will be easy to listing with confort evrywhere in Niger, but also in the large part of Africa and Europe such programmes either with a digital receivers or with very simple receivers in localities covered by solar rural radio broadcasting.

4. Bankilare : The Starting Point of the RURANET/ICD Initiative

4.1. Bankilare: A Pilot Experience Being Replicated

4.2. Communication, Priority and Urgent Need for the Population of Bankilare

4.3. Development

The challenge was :

4.4. Grassroots and Participatory Strategy

The approach aimed at:

4.5. The First Self Managed Solar Rural Radio Operational in Bankilare

Looking for a minimal cost of the unit :

Bankilaré Rural radio

Objective 1. Looking for sustainable conditions to a real self management of the unit

A broadcaster

Objective 2. Ensuring the respect of the national legislation and procedures, defined in Decree 001/CSC of 17/7/95:

Objective 3. Making the installation process of the Bankilare unit as efficient as possible

Objective 4. Implementing participatory approach at the institutional level

The SEMRRU Association is composed of:

4.6 The Next Phases

Consolidating the experience of Bankilare which know a great success in Niger and all around the world relevant actions have to be undertaken:

The RURANET was created in November 1999 and includes representatives of Civil Society (The ANDDH NGO chairs it), NGOs, Donors, Public and private operators and Government officials.

RURANET: 5 commissions in charge of :


Bankilare constitutes a remarkable example of the information and communication experience accessible to the poor, voiceless and isolated populations. Bankilare is already used as a Center of promotion and training for Tchin Tabaraden and Belbeji Rural Radio Associations, while waiting for other SEMRRU sites. The Bankilare case was successfully exposed to the Addis Ababa Workshop held in April 2000, it attracts professionals of the communication as well as other interested specialists.

Recently, in August 2000, the UNESCO mission, the Ambassador of France and The European Union Delegate participated in Bankilare to a download operation of documents sent from Worldspace Washington through the Satellite Afristar and received directly in the village, thanks to the Digital receiver and PC connected to solar energy without any other energy or telephone facilities.


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