Congo Watch: Rwanda's Kagame concerned by dominance of DR Congo radios

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rwanda's Kagame concerned by dominance of DR Congo radios

Source: RNA news agency, Kigali, in English 10 Dec 09 via BBC Monitoring:
Rwandan leader concerned by dominance of DR Congo radios
December 10th, 2009 - 11:06 UTC by Andy Sennitt.
Text of report in English by Rwandan news agency RNA
President Paul Kagame demanded Thursday that the national broadcaster deploys any appropriate technology to stop the dominance of DR Congo state radio and other FM stations which relay to western Rwanda, RNA reports.

Most areas bordering the large neighbour have for years not been able to capture Radio Rwanda or even state TV. Instead, they watch several Congolese television channels as well as radio stations including Congolese State Radio.

Local officials from there and parliamentarians petitioned the government arguing that their people were not closely following government programmes because there is no communications medium. The Ministry of Information was directed to take up the issue. At the ongoing National Dialogue, a person raised the issue by SMS and President Kagame was on hand - putting whoever is responsible to task.

Former Information Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said that in addition to new relay antennas that are being installed, her office was engaging the Congolese government to reduce the strength of radio signals which come from there.

President Kagame was not convinced, wondering whether Congo needs to reduce the strength of its signal or Rwanda had to increase the capacity of its own broadcaster. He also wondered how a signal from such a large country can reach some parts of Rwanda - dominating the signal from Kigali

“Do you ask your neighbour to reduce the volume of their radio when yours has a low volume or you simply increase the volume?” he demanded amid loud cheers, as Ms Mushikiwabo struggled to explain.

The former minister, now Foreign Affairs Minister, said her office had also preferred to engage with DRC officials to have the signal from Kinshasa regulated.

“No, that is not how things are done,” Kagame said. “The solution is increasing the volume of your radio.”

He also complained that it had been too long but this problem of Radio Rwanda and TV Rwanda remains unsolved. It should not be simply that something is going or is being done, he said adding “we want time lines for when the problem will be over”.

The minister said in a period of six months, the problem will be no more. The state broadcaster ORINFOR has injected some 13m dollars into upgrading its transmission equipment.

American firm Harris Corporation - a broadcast communications technology provider will install new antennas, put up new studio equipment, buy new long-distance relay vans and train technical staff.

The areas bordering Uganda also [more] easily capture FM stations from there than Rwanda state radio.

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