Voice of America (VOA) has launched its English to Africa Service on FM 102.4 dial at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown, over the weekend.
The Minister of Presidential Affairs, Alpha O Kanu who officially launched the FM dial said in his keynote address that “VOA in Sierra Leone is one more endorsement testifying and demonstrating to the world, in a loud voice like that of Uncle Ted of VOA’s popular Nightline, that Sierra Leone has actually returned to normalcy.”
He said that the fact that the people of Sierra Leone have been awarded the African Peace Prize for 2008 “confirms that our nation has embraced democratic principles, underpinned by good governance, the Rule of Law, the judicious dispensation of justice and the fight to eradicate corruption,” he said.
Alpha Kanu noted that “the power of the radio as the most effective modern communication tool especially for developing economies like ours cannot be over-emphasized. No one would forget Rwanda, where a broadcaster instigated the genocide, the worst in the continent”.
In poor communities such as ours, the Presidential Affairs Minister said, “the radio, whether owned by an individual, a family or a community is a point of convergence for social interaction, for consumption of information, for entertainment, and to gain education.”
The Minister explained that during his school days in the mid 60s, education programs such as ‘French by Radio’, ‘Friday Promenade’ and ‘Science by Radio’ enabled children to complement school lessons. “These programs were very effective. The science programs encouraged me to develop enough interest in the sciences to become the engineer I am today; as well as providing me a communication vehicle in French, which has proven invaluable in my business and political metamorphosis,” he explained. United States Embassy Charge d’Affairs, Glen Fedzer, explained that technology has given everyone the chance for their voices to be heard. He explained that the challenge is the abundance of information, highlighting that it is not easy for Sierra Leoneans to discern the truth from the dozens of radio stations and over a 50 registered newspapers. He said that VOA could not stand alone as the only source of information about America, but it would stand above the others as the sources of reliable and objective news. The US Emissary expressed optimism that the people of Sierra Leone would choose VOA as the source of information that would never compromise the truth. Independent Media Commissioner, Christopher Johnson appealed to VOA to ensure that at least one program is done in one local language for the benefit of provincial listeners. VOA’s English to Africa Chief, Sonia Laurence Green disclosed that majority of their listeners are in Africa; noting that VOA reports to Africa using African reporters and presenters. Skyy Radio Managing Director, Andrew Kromah gave a rundown of VOA’s development in Sierra Leone over the years.