The cultures of the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America constitute part of the wealth of mankind. As a result of colonialism and underdevelopment many of them are endangered in their very existence. It is, therefore, of universal interest that they continue and develop.

Cultural and political development is an integral component for the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America to create conditions of life under which their citizens can live comfortably and self-determined.

Without such a process it will not be possible for the industrialized world to sustain peaceful and reasonable life conditions as well. Therefore, the cultural and material well-being of the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America is in the interest of the peoples of the North.

Considering the fact that today millions of people from Africa, Asia and Latin America do form already part of Northern societies it is of utmost importance to impart knowledge about cultures and conditions of their countries of origin. This will, at the same time, contribute, in North and South, to a peaceful togetherness and to a social behaviour which are determined by tolerance, openness and healthy curiosity.

The chances for cultural activities, social and political engagement of the peoples in Africa, Asia and Latin America are prejudiced e.g. by limited material resources, lack of communication and interaction in their countries. They are also limited by the overwhelming presence of industrialized powers. The situation is worsened by little readiness of the people in the industrialized world to receive cultural and political messages of people in the South.

"RADIO BRIDGE OVERSEAS" intends to help reduce these deficiencies by establishing an intercontinental radio-network. At the same time, it will develop a quality of radio-program that will be determined by a conscious, critical and participative interaction between listeners and producers.


RBO produced in October & November 1996 a series of 8 x 15-minute episodes titled "MAKING IT WORK" about use of appropriate technology, on ZBC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation) Radio 4, which was also aired in different language versions in Botswana, Kenya and Ethiopia. Episodes in this series were used as a method of informing policy-makers by identifying and assessing the demand for sustainable technical solutions in various sectors of the developing economies in East and Southern Africa. The programs were produced in RBO's studios in English, Shona and Kiswahili and were designed to sensitize the rural and urban poor to the existence, availability and applicability of appropriate technologies. The series also constructed a forum for the cross-fertilisation of ideas from around the region through an introduction in each episode of a technology and its usage in individual countries of the region. (Due to the great success of programming re-broadcast is anticipated - in additional language versions - in Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda.) 
Click here for audio samples. 

The weekly series "Izwi Romurimi / Ilizwi Lomlimi" (Farmer's Voice) of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, on ZBC Radio 2, with an interactive component, was produced by RBO for 15 months in 1996 and 1997 in Shona and Ndebele. There was an interactive component in this program which allowed administrators to be in close contact with the grassroots who make up their constituencies. The format of the series had the objective of disseminating information to about 170,000 small-scale farmers in a fast and cost-effective way. Click here for audio samples. 

Another 24-episode series about community-based management of natural resources called "Kuchengetedza Zviwanikwa" (Living Ideas) has just been aired on ZBC Radio 2, with overvoiced versions in other African languages simultaneously on air in Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. This series had the objective of passing on knowledge to the grassroots about community-based natural resources management by illustrating various community initiatives and their benefits. Rural communities from a variety of countries in the Southern African region were provided with a chance to exchange ideas and experiences so that they could learn from each other. The radio series covered issues like traditional knowledge and practice, issues of legislation, capacity building, and community participation. 
Click here to access this special RBO project. 

 Based on regular feeds to public German radio stations since 1993 (overvoiced German versions of programmes by story tellers of RBO's African network) RBO produced, partly together with its German sister society "Radio Brücke Übersee e.V." and with its partner in Ecuador "Centro de Educacion Popular / CEDEP", in 1995/96 & 97 three audio cassettes (each 5,000 copies) for distribution to adult education institutions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 

  Volume I: "VOICES OF AFRICA - ANOTHER VIEW OF DEMOCRACY " (Stimmen aus Afrika - Demokratie anders) 

Volume II: "VOICES OF AFRICA - WOMEN IN AFRICA" (Stimmen aus Afrika - Frauen in Afrika) 

  Volume III: "VOICES OF LATIN AMERICA - LITERATURE & POLITICS IN LATIN AMERICA" (Stimmen aus Lateinamerika - Literatur und Politik in Lateinamerika). 

  In 1994 RBO produced for half a year a daily 30-minute audio magazine, "VOICES OF AFRICA" with 4 mini-features each by African authors, as feeds through the "Public Radio Satellite System" of the U.S.A. Issues ranged from authentic cultural expressions to social and political developments. 

  Three of these mini-features won RBO the "1994 Global Award for Media Excellence" during the UN-World Population Conference in Cairo for "Best Radio Program in fostering support to solve the world population crisis through a demonstrated commitment to share ideas, knowledge, and experience towards the ultimate objective to reduce excessive population growth and creating a better life for all the world's people." 


  RBO was the clearing house for radio programming for and from communities in different corners of the world with regard to the UN-declared "Year of the Oceans 1998".  Click here for audio samples.


RBO produced in 1998, on behalf of "Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit" & "Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft", an audio feature for distribution to participants of the "International Workshop on Financing Schemes for Decentralised Solar Energy Systems II" from 20th to 23rd October 1998 in Harare / Zimbabwe. The audio-feature contains 5 modules, each up to 6 minutes long, presenting: 


RBO has dubbed the program on analogue cassettes for distribution to all workshop-participants who will make an effort to have the program aired on a national radio station of their country, whereby such stations can either use the 30-minute program in its entirety or select modules for a serial of programs. The cassettes will also be used for other promotional purposes by the recipients.

Also in 1998, RBO has been tasked to produce from within the SADC-region several audio-features for broadcast in Austria which coincided with an EC-SADC conference hosted by Austria as the holder of the EU-presidency in 1998.

  RBO's "Special Project Austria & SADC" was researched in Mozambique, Tanzania, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Five 30up to -minute audio features contained each five topical modules, describing amongst others one Austrian assisted development project in each country. The five audio features were on air on ORF1 from October to December 1998. English (in German) versions of all modules can be viewed as a multi-media project on RBO's website.
Click here for a sample


Access to a growing range of sophisticated communication software, free of charge or at low cost, allows people around the world to use the Internet individually as a medium to interact with each other. They are able to share and to exchange information, they can talk to and see each other.

As much as the net is being used by millions of people around the globe already, there is almost no exchange taking place between different cultural settings and there are rarely links between different topical issues; the virtual world of Internet - although accessible to everyone with connectivity - seems to reflect the real world’s closed circles. Even worse, the majority of the world’s population is completely disintegrated from this mode of communication. At the best, they may perceive their view of the world through their local radio station, monitored through a battery driven radio. This radio remains as their window to the world.

Connectivity is the privilege of people participating in Northern dominated economies, whether in the North itself or in urban centres of the South. However, connectivity alone does not solve four major set-backs once you want to involve a wider scope of communities locally and internationally:

- You have to bridge cultural differences
- You have to break language barriers
- You have to make the content accessible to an audience without connectivity
- You have to make such a regular event sustainable

as proposed by Radio Bremen (ARD / Germany)
& Radio Bridge Overseas (Zimbabwe)


"The radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, a vast network of pipes. That is to say, it would be if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit, how to let the listener speak as well as hear, how to bring him into a relationship instead of isolating him."
(Bertolt Brecht)

"Do we people who live in Germany and in Europe notice the changes taking place in African countries? Is the image which we draw from our media the appropriate one for the African reality of life? We ask these questions, so as to get a deeper understanding of the efforts being made by Africans to transform their situation and the hopes they associate with the future. We suggest to make use of the concrete possibilities of the multimedia exchange which have been made accessible by new interacting technologies. For this purpose we present the idea of a European-African Media Portal. This is a project that provides many impulses for contributions of social groups and organisations in Africa and Europe and beyond."
(Lawford Imunde / Project "Sensitive to Africa" of Evangelische Akademie Loccum / Germany)

"I would like to confirm that Radio Bremen is quite willing to participate, within its means, in this project as well."
(Dr. Heinz Glässgen / Director General of Radio Bremen / Germany)

Radio Bremen is the first public radio station in Europe which is prepared to participate in a multimedia-bridge between people in South and North, and it is intended to establish the Northern production centre at Radio Bremen's studios in Bremerhaven.

Such a multimedia portal will allow interaction between cultures and generations in North and South.

People of different walks of life will be connected beyond barriers of cultures and languages. As a result of this project, programs will be available for radio and Internet as well, the content being offered globally as an online-content, at the same time providing context in a local environment in which participating community radio stations operate. They will be able to tailor incoming programs in a way which would allow interaction with their local audience.

In order to secure professional content development in the South, it will be necessary to establish a system for training which enhances North-South-co-operation of media workers within the fields of radio and Internet. A consortium of European partners is in the process to set up a scheme which includes a permanent training system attaching interns from Europe (young journalists) to training sessions with storytellers from the AKP-region in order to generate authentic southern content for programming in several language versions.

It is intended to include more and more European regions into this project through co-operating public and community radio stations within the European Union and beyond, thereby providing a grassroots based network of communication for the exchange of experiences and ideas along frameworks of the concept of "Local Agenda 21".

Organisations and enterprises within and beyond the field of direct media involvement - that is in particular those whose mandate it is to offer services in intercultural work, in education and in development policies - are invited to seek partnership with the project.

Precondition for development and smooth operation of a European-African Multimedia-Bridge will be the reliable co-operation with a competent southern partner who commands already a network of communication within the ACP-region ("ACP" = Africa, Caribbean, Pacific: some 70 countries connected through agreements of Lomé and Cotonou with the European Union). This reliable partner is MWENGO (Mwelekeo mwa NGO, the reflection and development centre for NGOs in Eastern and Southern Africa, with its headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe. MWENGO will operate "Radio Bridge Overseas" as the project’s multimedia production & training facility in the South. At the same time, it will serve as a switchboard regarding co-operation between civic initiatives in the ACP-region and in Europe.


as proposed by

In order to generate a network of broadcasters within the SADC-region which will be involved in the establishment of a sustainable exchange of development orientated audio programming through Internet, MWENGO suggests to combine the actual production and distribution of such multimedia programming with a regional training component. Partners will be selected grassroots based development projects & their supporting agencies in Africa & Overseas, producers of selected radio stations & co-operating Internet Service Providers, with MWENGO’s RBO as the co-ordinator. During the proposed pilot phase, partners in a growing number of SADC-countries.


Multimedia shall be understood as a combination of any two or more different media types (text, graphics, images, audio, video).
Multimedia is not a limiting medium - whilst you are researching a story you can gather material for print, audio, picture and video at the same time. Electronic devices are already available which allow digital capturing of audio, still picture and video with the same piece of hardware. With that multimedia approach you will have your newspaper story and your radio story and then you can combine both to go on the Internet or create a CD-Rom.

The following elements are suggested:

Regional training - Media personnel will be taught how to collect information using a multimedia approach whereby they can produce an article for the print media, an audio program for broadcast media and basic elements for CD- Roms & for the Internet.

Production of audio programs - After the training of media personnel it will be easier to get a constant feed of stories from around the region with MWENGO’s RBO receiving all material and turning it into suitable programs for regional distribution, providing copies in several language versions.

To produce a CD-ROM / Internet presentation - The creation of a data bank in form of a CD-ROM will provide participants access to Internet, also allowing permanent up-dates by partners.

It is possible to go throughout the region and collect stories on chosen topics but the idea is to have people from around the region actively participating in telling their own stories from their perspective and then exchanging programs through their local radio. In order to have a constant source of stories for exchange, it is suggested that the following can be done:

- Production of multimedia programs relevant to an organisation’s needs.
- Because of the cultural differences on the continent, a media training program with identified media organisations and Internet Service Providers in the region can be undertaken. Attendees will learn how to turn material, collected and researched at home, into suitable formats for regional distribution.
- Establish a network of schools and colleges using the Internet to allow the youth to learn how to use modern communication tools whilst at the same time ideas and opinions are allowed to flow freely from one country to another. Appropriate media tools can give the students the experience they need to be informed, intelligent decision makers, producers and problem solving members and as adult members of the new millennium. Just imagine how empowering this is to the African child! The use of multimedia allows this because teachers and students are able to tackle various issues by creating interactive lessons - they are able to link up with their counterparts in other schools not only in the region but internationally as well thus sharing experiences and new ideas in a stimulating way.

Overall Goal

To establish a forum for debate between development orientated grassroots initiatives through radio and a network for the exchange of educational audio packages between radio stations within SADC and Overseas.

Project Objectives

a) To initiate ongoing communication between grassroots development projects, their support agencies and the audio media within the SADC-region, using English, French, Portuguese, Spanish etc. & vernacular
b) To provide Southern radio journalists with the necessary skills to produce and exchange relevant audio-programs through Internet
c) To initiate co-operation of Southern Internet Service Providers (ISP) with radio stations for an exchange of such audio-files through Internet
d) To establish a professional African media-network which would provide a digest of authentic programming from Africa for distribution to audiences beyond Africa through co-operation with media-partners in Europe

Achievements expected

It is hoped, after the pilot phase, to have established through Internet and associated radio stations a regular forum for developmental debate between grassroots initiatives within the SADC-region and with relevant support agencies. MWENGO / Harare, as NGO co-ordinator, will have mobilised ongoing support by NGO’s and other organisations which operate in different fields of developmental and civic engagement. Regular audio programming on their behalf, and financed by them, will help to maintain a sustainable network for audio program exchanges. Participating radio stations will receive educational audio-serials for free, offering in return own programming for international distribution.

Planned Project Activities

The idea is to establish in a growing number of African countries a professional relationship between one Internet Service Provider (ISP) and producers of a local radio station, both partners being invited to a 3-week-training workshop in Harare.

On the agenda:
a) liaising with local grassroots development initiatives & their support agencies
b) Identifying local topics and formatting of audio-programs meant for radio audiences in other cultural environments
c) Introduction to computer-based digital audio-production (hard disk recording)
d) Introduction to compressing, up- & downloading and de-compressing of audio- files
e) establishing of systems for audio-program exchange through Internet from RBO's website to websites of participating radio stations with connectivity or to websites of co-operating ISP's
f) methods for dubbing of downloaded files for analogue use at partner radio stations with connectivity or of co-operating ISP's, and systems for uploading of analogue audio-programs by those partner radio stations for exchange through Internet
g) Establishing permanent communication through Internet & e-mail

STRUCTURE at MWENGO’s RBO in Harare / Zimbabwe as:

Liaison point with MWENGO / Harare, as NGO co-ordinator and with radio networks & their ISP-collaborators within SADC

Meeting point for trainees from within the SADC-region during pilot phase

Receiving point for all audio material & English transcripts, from participating radio stations with connectivity as compressed files, from participating radio stations without connectivity through co-operating Internet Service Providers in their vicinity.

Production point for final arrangement of regular program feeds in several language versions.

Distribution point for all ready-made audio feeds in several language versions, through compressed files for placement on RBO’s website, downloadable for partners with connectivity, where necessary through co-operating Internet Service Providers, and accessible to Internet surfers.

INTERNET surfers will find a general introduction to the project, linking them to three weekly mini-audio-features (each not more than 6 minutes long) on RBO's website, available as over-voiced versions in several language versions. Sub-buttons will direct visitors to these language versions.

It is intended to place all audio files on RBO’s website as a multi media offer, which will allow updates by and interaction with resource persons, the use of pictures, graphics & links to additional resources.

Editorial chat-links will be set up between RBO's studio in Harare and centres of partners abroad. Regular conferences via Internet, hosted by RBO, will allow co-ordination of programming and monitoring of progress and feedback.

MWENGO is targetting - through RBO - grassroot based development initiatives & their support agencies, radio producers & co-operating Internet Service Providers in member countries of SADC. During preparation one radio station and one Internet Service Provider will be identified in each country who are willing to participate.

They will be asked to honour participation in RBO-training with continued support of the ermerging exchange network. Each radio station will be represented during a 3-week-training session in Harare with 1 producer and 1 ISP who has signed an undertakting to co-operate in future with the station. Producers will be tasked to bring along material and script for at least one audio program, not longer than 6 minutes, and including excerpts from interviews, relevant SFX, music & songs from, reflecting a subject still to be determined in a context of a grassroot based project in the environment they come from. Each participating radio station will have to provide from the time its trainee returns home at least 1 program offer per month.

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