UNESCO organised a two-day inception workshop in Kigali, Rwanda, from 14 to 15 October 2015 to lay the foundation for support to four local radio stations radio in the country. The workshop aimed at community radio practitioners contributed to reconfirm priority needs, mobilising local involvement and leadership while strategizing for the smooth running of the project. It will be implemented from 2015-2017 in Rwanda.
The workshop attracted 25 participants comprising of 18 men and 7 women drawn from local stakeholders in Rwanda and representatives from the four benefitting radio stations, namely Radio Izuba FM, Radio Huguka FM, Radio Isangano FM, and Radio Ishingiro FM.
During the opening of the workshop, Mr Clement Kirenga Programme Manager for Democracy and Human Rights at the Embassy of Sweden in Kigali stated that "UNESCOs project on empowering local radios with ICTs neatly aligns with Sweden’s ongoing strategy in the region of strengthening democracy and human rights and is also congruent with the ongoing media reforms by the Government of Rwanda. Community radios have long been neglected in the media sector reforms yet they play a critical role in the development of our society. I therefore encourage each invited community radio to take advantage of this project and help contribute to the transformation of our local communities in Rwanda.”
Mr Emmanuel Dusenge a Senior Advisor in charge of ICT infrastructure Development at the Ministry of Youth and ICT (MYICT) noted that “this project is a great initiative by UNESCO to support the media sector in Rwanda and is in line with our Vision 2020 strategy. The ministry fully supports this initiative as it will not only help strengthen capacities of local community radios in Rwanda but also expose them to vast opportunities that ICTs provide to improve their programming and programmes.”
During the workshop, participants were taken through presentation on UNESCOs administrative procedures that will guide implementation of the project activities; the process of self-monitoring for Community Radios and how to write an activity. As Ms Brigitte Uwamariya from Radio Huguka FM pointed out, "this workshop has enabled me to learn more about the project, how I need to participate in it and how it’s going to be implemented…. Previously I and my team were worried about how our radio station was going to participate in the project. I can now say confidently that we are ready to take part in the project.”
Apart from the training modalities community radio practitioners participated in three round table discussions which permitted them to interact with various stakeholders working in the media sector and that are relevant to the project. The following topics were discussed during the panel discussions: how to leverage the potential of ICTs to empower community radios; community radio and infrastructure and how to strengthen networking among community radio stations with the relevant stakeholders. The discussions also highlighted the policy, legal and regulatory mechanism for community radio stations in Rwanda and how special provisions need to be made for them to form part of a pluralistic media environment in Rwanda.
Mr Ildephonse Sinabubariraga, Managing Director of Radio Ishingiro FM, said, “I am pleased that UNESCO finally extended this project from Kenya to Rwanda. I believe that the project will bring a great change to community radios in terms of not only enhancing skills and capacity of community radio practitioners but also improving the quality of programmes produced at the radio stations. I really look forward to our participation in this project.”
The inception workshop was organised as part of UNESCOs continuing media development initiatives in the region under its ongoing SIDA funded project themed: “Empowering Local Radios with ICTs” in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.