For two years an all female broadcaster is shaking the tree in this West African country that – according to a UN report – is one of the fifteen less developed countries in the world. The radio station aims to raise awareness on gender equality, formally granted by the constitution, but very difficult to apply in a Muslim and patriarchal society that still uses genital mutilation on young women. Born in Bafata, thanks to the efforts of Periodistas Solidarios – a NGO from Seville (Spain), it operates with equipment donated by Radio Nacional de España and Canal Sur Radio (Regional government of Andalusia’s official radio station); now the project is supported by UN. It could be a coincidence, but within a year the main broadcaster of the city (RCB, Radio Comunitaria de Bafata, 105.5 MHz) hired three women: previously the transmissions were all hosted by men. Radio broadcasting isn’t easy in Guinea Bissau, not only for social and political reasons: electricity is only supplied for a couple of hours during the night, so it’s necessary relying on photovoltaic panels or generators.
Repeaters are to be turned off, transmitting power to be reduced, and frequencies to be reallocated, all in order to decongest the FM frequencies in this West African country, where they have 56 radio stations with a total of about 200 channels. MACRA – Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority stopped issuing new radio broadcast licenses and called for a tender for the reorganisation of the radio frequencies. This was subsequently won by the English consulting firm, CASiTEL.
The three phase plan
The consulting firm mapped out the current FM network and created a database of the frequencies and broadcasting sites. They examined the FM network coverage, identified the areas impacted by interference and presented a plan to significantly improve the quality of service. Finally, they optimised the broadcasting services coverage to enable the introduction of a greater number of channels that will be issued broadcasting licenses in the course of 2020.