Posted September 1996
International workshop on the development of rural radio in Africa
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
10-14 June 1996
Declaration and Plan of Action
African countries are confronted by many significant changes politically,
economically and socially. These changes have been brought about by a process
of democratisation and pluralism, a desire for peace, decentralisation of
economic and political decision-making and the encouragement of the private
sector to take over many functions previously undertaken by the state.
In this context, the major challenges to be met are the need for food security
for a rapidly growing population, to improve agricultural production while
preserving the natural resource base; to improve standards of living, health,
education and nutrition, particularly for women and children; to create
income and employment opportunities; and to preserve cultural heritage.
These challenges will not be met without active, popular participation of
the population, for which communication is a strategic factor.
The Windhoek (1991) and Bamako (1993) Declarations emphasized the necessity
for developing independent and pluralistic radio and press. Radio remains
the most popular, viable, accessible and cost-effective means of communication
for rural people. Radio can overcome the barriers of distance, illiteracy
and language diversity better than any other media.
There have been a number of developments that have led to significant changes
in the use of radio for reaching rural audiences. The introduction of new
technology, the reduction in cost of FM transmitters and the replacement
of state broadcasting monopolies by private sector and association-based
radio has, in recent years, led to the development of new forms of radio
both in urban centres and in rural communities.
This evolution has provided opportunities for a diversity of approaches
to the use of radio, and much more effective coverage of audiences in terms
of territory and meeting differing socio-economic and linguistic needs.
From now on, all those who are involved in development, particularly those
operating at the grassroots level, can make use of this form of communication,
either by playing an active role in the conception and production of rural
programmes for broadcast by existing radio stations or by establishing their
own radio stations. Despite these promising trends, rural radio nevertheless
suffers from initiatives that are too widely dispersed and from lack of
Today rural radio is at a crossroads. Decisions must be made and a number
of problems addressed in order to allow rural radio to develop in a coordinated
manner so that it may fulfil its mission to provide information and opportunity
for dialogue and contribute to rural development:
- First, the development of rural radio must be confirmed as a priority
objective of governments and their partners within the national strategy
for the communication of development objectives.
- Appropriate legal and institutional measures must be established for
the different forms of rural radio that already exist in order to encourage
their development and complementarity.
- Rural radio stations should be provided with the infrastructure, equipment
and consumables that are best suited to their tasks and their environment.
- Research and training programmes should be expanded and strengthened
in order that rural radio can carry out its tasks effectively and develop
so that it can respond to future development needs.
- Inter-African co-operation should be pursued and reinforced.
Finally it is essential that all those involved in rural development (governments,
international partners, NGOs, local groups and associations, the private
sector, etc.) should support and encourage the development of rural radio
in Africa. To achieve this it is necessary to identify all available means
for establishing mechanisms for co-operation and follow-up which will allow
the identification and mobilization, in a co-ordinated and complementary
way, of all appropriate human, technical and financial resources. One such
mechanism could be to find a linkage with the UN Secretary General's Special
Initiative for Africa.
We invite all partners in development to consider this "Ouagadougou
Plan of Action" as a framework within which to define and implement
actions for the development of rural radio in Africa.
Plan of action
1. Legal and institutional mechanisms
Basis for action
The development of rural radio at national, regional and local level to
meet the needs of rural people, implies a respect for pluralism by the State
and others. It also requires a concerted effort to develop a more coordinated
development of rural radio stations which at the present time operate within
many different legal and regulatory frameworks and under different levels
It is therefore essential, at a time when new radio stations are rapidly
multiplying in both urban and rural areas, that appropriate political, legal
and regulatory measures be adopted at national, regional and local levels
in order to harmonize the legal status and define the mission and terms
of reference for the operation of rural radio. Licensing and allocation
of transmission frequencies must be awarded on a statutory basis and the
formation of networks should be encouraged.
Furthermore, the adoption of appropriate legal statutes will enable rural
radio stations to acquire administrative, financial and editorial autonomy
while maintaining a general public service mission.
These legal and regulatory changes should be accompanied by institutional
measures that can make it possible for rural radio stations to fully assume
their role in promoting and sustaining rural development. To this end, all
development actions should be associated with determining the direction
and definition of radio programmes to ensure that the themes of the programmes
and the manner in which they are treated reflect the diversity of needs
and the multiplicity of opinions and approaches of rural radio stations.
Objective 1: for each country to establish an appropriate legal, regulatory
and institutional framework in order to favour the development of rural
radio in its many forms.
- To define and put into place national development communication policies.
To define the role and function of rural radio stations within the framework
of this development communication policy in order to legitimize the roles
of rural radio in the overall rural development process and to commit all
national and international partners to a joint action covering the information
and communication needs of all sectors of rural development.
- To identify, study and adapt the legal statutes that are most appropriate
to the roles of rural radio in its various forms.
- To adopt regulatory measures aimed at granting and increasing administrative,
editorial and financial autonomy of rural radio public structures.
- To establish terms of reference, supervise the implementation of public
service missions, deal with matters relating to legislation and the granting
of permits, licences and allocation of transmission frequencies and to regulate
advertising revenue in order that radio stations derive some benefit.
- To propose legal, institutional and technical provisions which will
promote the creation of a network of rural radio stations at the local,
regional and national levels. These provisions should make optimal use of
all existing resources in order to meet the needs of listeners, ensure the
best possible territorial and linguistic coverage and reinforce a democratic
and participatory approach.
- To set up a joint authority for intersectorial consultation and coordination
between all those concerned, in order to develop programming which recognizes
listener interests and which assists rural radio stations to cover themes
relating to economic, social and cultural development. Such an authority
would also help rural radio stations to gain access to the technical, financial
and human resources required.
2. Infrastructure, equipment and technological choices
Basis for action
The survival of rural radio stations is threatened by the lack of resources
available for equipment and technical infrastructure. As a result of this
there are serious operational and maintenance problems.
In general, rural radiao stations do not have their own specific equipment
and they experience great difficulty in obtaining spare parts.
To ensure sustainable development of rural radio it is essential to establish,
at national level, a development plan for technical equipment and infrastructure.
At both national and regional levels, appropriate technical solutions should
be sought in order to make rational use of existing equipment.
- Objective 1: To establish in each country a broadcasting development
plan reflecting the advantages of shared use of technical infrastructure
and equipment with PTT, broadcasting organizations etc.
- Objective 2: To develop wherever possible a national manufacturing capability
for the production, assembly and marketing of radio equipment.
- To establish a system for circulating information about existing technical
facilities. The ITU, in cooperation with other agencies should be invited
to produce a manual giving technical parameters for transmitters in order
to improve management of frequencies at national level. The manual could
also provide guidelines for the design, construction, accoustics and air-conditioning
of technical sites.
- To develop a plan which favours FM transmission for broadcasting
- Each country to seek means by which import duties on all broadcasting
equipment destined for rural radio are reduced or even eliminated.
- To implement, with the support of UNIDO a series of needs assessment
and feasibility studies with a view to establishing local industrial units
for the manufacture of radio equipment, receivers and consumables (batteries,
tapes and cassettes). These studies should lead to the formulation of projects
in a form which can be presented to funding partners.
- To undertake a feasibility study into the possibility of establishing
central purchasing in order to reduce cost of acquiring radio equipment.
3. New directions for training and research
Basis for action
- Training and research are crucial to the development of rural radio
in Africa. At the national level they must be considered a priority.
- A research and training sector must be established in each country to
cover the needs of all those involved in rural radio. It must carry out
a research programme on all aspects of the development of rural radio and
set up a programme that takes into account the training needs of all categories
of specialists: producers, technicians, documentalists, managers, trainers
and audience research specialists; also for the development of the new electronic
technologies. This training programme should also address all the new techniques
and methods of participatory research with rural communities. It should
also take into account the need for other means of communication in order
to extend the impact of rural radio on the ground.
- At inter-African level, a mechanism for coordination and support to
national research and training programmes should be put in place with the
support of international agencies. A network of researchers and African
rural radio trainers should be set up and also an international resource
centre. CIERRO could carry out this duty for francophone countries and similar
bodies could be created for anglophones and lusophones.
- At international level collaboration between the principal agencies
concerned with rural radio in Africa should be reinforced in order to coordinate
research and training support to the different countries and to inter-African
- Objective 1: To develop in each country and at inter-African level,
training programmes which relate to the needs of rural radio within a wider
framework of communication for development.
- Objective 2: At inter-African level, to establish or reinforce a programme
of research into the development of rural radio in all its aspects - legal,
institutional, social, cultural, economic and technical as well as its impact.
- To evaluate the training needs of each station, taking into account
the specific nature of the station, the personnel involved and the need
to develop the production and broadcasting capability of the station. Develop
a training strategy.
- To develop a national training programme for each country taking into
account the needs identified at station level.
- Set up, or improve, training structures for rural radio at national
- Improve access to training for women working in rural radio and also
for personnel from community, commercial or NGO radio stations.
- Establish tertiary level training at CIERRO
- Develop a training programme in marketing at CIERRO for studying rural
audiences, how to develop projects and how to conduct participatory research.
- Develop and strengthen programmes for training of trainers.
- Set up structures for the coordination and follow up of training at
national and inter-African level.
- Develop at inter-African level a data file of resource personnel and
- Support the URTNA proposal for the establishment of a training institution
similar to CIERRO for anglophone countries.
- Develop a research programme covering the following points:
- he changing role of rural radio
- the corresponding technical, social, economic, cultural, legal and
- the kind of programmes which should be produced by rural radio,
taking into account approaches involving audience participation, use of
national languages and the opportunities for social dialogue offered by
- the development of ways to analyse rural audiences and to measure
the impact of programmes on rural development.
- equipment and technical infrastructure best adapted to the needs
of rural radio in economic, technical and cultural contexts.
- Seek finance and funding partners in order to establish a programme
- Establish a mechanism by which the research results can be shared.
4. International coordination for the implementation of the Plan of
Basis for action
International coordination and partnerships to implement this plan of action
are essential in order to mobilize technical and financial resources. This
cooperation will promote rational and cost-effective initiatives, avoid
duplication and maximize the use of existing resources. This international
collaboration will co-operate with existing institutions currently working
to support rural radio and rural communication. Institutions such as CIERRO
will continue to play an important role in this process. Particular attention
will be given to the UN System-wide Special Initiative on Africa which promotes
the development of human resources, especially women, health, sustainable
development, peace and democracy. Rural radio plays a central role in this
endeavour and should continue to do so.
- Objective 1: To develop international cooperation in order to implement
and follow up the Plan of Action.
- To develop in accordance with the recommendations of the workshop
a package of project proposals for which funding should be sought
- To explore and establish appropriate mechanisms for consultation among
all partners, including governments, aid agencies, professional groups,
NGOs and the private sector.
- To organize a meeting of donors in order to submit project proposals
relating to rural radio. International funding agencies such as the World
Bank, UNDP, and the EU should be invited to take an active role.
- To complement the meeting of donors, the Plan of Action should be
submitted to the UN System-wide Special Initiative on Africa in view of
the important role that radio will play in achieving the SSIA's objectives.
The conclusions of the Ouagadougou Workshop should also be presented at
the next round table discussions on communication for development organized
by UNESCO and scheduled for September 1996 in Harare which will be attended
by UN Agencies, NGOs and universities.
As organizers of the Workshop, URTNA, FAO and the Government of Burkina
Faso are required to implement follow up to the Workshop and to identify
the necessary funding required.