Several privately owned Rwandan FM radio stations are due to begin operations in February following a cabinet directive to the country’s press council to issue work and broadcasting permits to fully registered stations. An official told IRIN that at least six FM stations, including Radio Contact, Radio Flash, National University of Rwanda-School of Journalism, Radio Tel-10 and Adecco Radio, have received licences to compete with Radio Rwanda. Another FM station owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church has also been given permission to begin operations. Two other stations that had applied for registration did not meet the standards, the official said.
Radio Rwanda has enjoyed a monopoly of the air waves for nearly 10 years since the 1994 genocide. The newly licensed stations are waiting for the Ministry of Infrastructure to allocate them frequencies, the council official said. Radio Tel-10 has already been allocated its frequency. However, no new television station have been licensed. “We have put a halt on licensing television stations because we wanted to first deal with the radios,” the official said.
So far, Tel-10 is the only company that has applied for television and radio registration. Rwanda only has one state-owned television station. Observers say that the government considers the advent of the private radio stations as a source of employment for unemployed youth. On average, each radio station is expected to employ at least 10 people. The radio stations will also help the government by airing educative programmes designed to enhance efforts to eradicate poverty as well as create awareness against HIV/AIDS, of which 11.5 percent of Rwanda’s 8.2 million are infected.
Rwanda has been very cautious in licensing privately owned stations following the role of Radio TÃƒ©lÃƒ©vision Libre des Mille Collines in the 1994 genocide.
(Source: UN Integrated Regional Information Networks - IRIN)