EAST AFRICAN REPORT

BY CHRIS GREENWAY

ARTICLE FROM COMMUNICATION - EDITION 322 -  SEPTEMBER 2001

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

When I first came to Kenya almost 15 years ago the listening choice available from within the country was limited to the offerings of the state monopoly broadcaster, the Voice of Kenya. This consisted of two nationwide radio channels - one in English, the other in Swahili - and three channels broadcasting in various languages to specific regions of the country. During the daytime the only foreign station audible in Nairobi on mediumwave was a weak signal from Radio Tanzania's regional station in Arusha, and so it was to shortwave that one looked for alternative daytime African listening.

 

Things have changed in Kenya. The state broadcaster is still there - although back in 1990 it reverted to its colonial-era name, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) - but it has been joined by a number of independent operators, both on radio and TV. As far as radio is concerned, these private stations all operate on FM, with the KBC remaining the only local user of mediumwave.

 

But the filling up of FM has been matched by an emptying of the local shortwave band. Since arriving back in Nairobi at the end of July I have not heard any shortwave broadcasts from Kenya at all. According to the engineering page of the KBC's web site - http://www.kbc.co.ke/technical.asp - the station is still broadcasting on a single shortwave frequency, 4885 kHz. However my observations indicate that this is not the case. Quite a change from the early 1990s when the KBC used to transmit on four shortwave frequencies simultaneously, making use of the 4, 6 and 7 MHz bands at various times of the day. Kenya has now joined a number of African countries that have left shortwave either temporarily or for good.

 

NAIROBI FM BANDSCAN

 

88.0 Sound Asia. One of two Nairobi stations that cater for the city's substantial population of Indian subcontinent origin.

 

88.5 Coro (pronounced "Soro") FM. This KBC-run station broadcasts exclusively in Kikuyu, the language of Kenya's largest tribe and the one that predominates in Nairobi and neighbouring Central Province, immediately to the north of the capital. I find Kikuyu music rather attractive, if

somewhat monotonous, and so this has become quite a favourite for me.

 

89.3 KBC's Swahili service. This is a low-power transmitter based at Broadcasting House in the centre of Nairobi.

 

89.5 KBC's "Eastern Service". With its shortwave relay off the air (see above) this appears to be the only outlet for this service, which broadcasts in Somali and other languages mainly spoken in northern and eastern Kenya.

 

89.9 KBC's "Central Service". Broadcasting in Kikuyu, Hindi and other languages spoken in Nairobi and other parts of the centre of the country, this reaches a larger audience via its mediumwave channel (1268 kHz).

 

91.9 East FM. Another station for the Indian community, this is available to a much wider audience via all three African beams of WorldSpace.

 

92.9 The main channel in Nairobi for the KBC's Swahili service.

 

93.7 BBC World Service in English and Swahili. The audio quality is better than the BBC WS outlet on WorldSpace.

 

95.1 Iqra FM. An Islamic station with programmes in English and other languages.

 

95.6 The main channel in Nairobi for the KBC's English service. For details of some of their programmes and photos of some of their presenters, see http://www.kbc.co.ke/renglish.asp

 

96.4 Nation FM. Run by the publishers of the Daily Nation, Kenya's biggest selling newspaper, who also operate Nation TV. A mixture of news and music. I enjoy reading the newspaper but have yet to find the radio enticing. The paper's web site, which also offers audio from the radio, is http://www.nationaudio.com/News/DailyNation/Today/

 

97.3 Another outlet for the KBC's English service.

 

98.4 Capital FM. Roughly what one would expect from a station with such a name. I suspect it has lost much of its audience to the newer Kiss 100.

 

99.5 This is the main frequency in Nairobi for Coro FM (see 88.5).

 

100.3 Kiss 100. Very popular station, broadcasting mainly in English with a mixture of music, short news bulletins, traffic reports, phone-ins and competitions. Often heard playing in shops and bars. It is also relayed on the southern African beam of WorldSpace.

 

101.1 Kameme FM. A privately-run station broadcasting in Kikuyu, though with a mixture of Kikuyu and Western music.

 

101.9 Metro FM. The KBC's attempt to take some of the young, urban audience away from the likes of Capital and Kiss. Also has outlets in other cities and towns.

 

105.2 Family FM. Christian station, which also runs a TV channel in Nairobi.

 

107.5 VOA in English. Seems to lose its audio feed very often, sometimes for whole days at a time.

 

One station missing from the above list is Citizen radio, which used to broadcast on 106.7 until it was closed down by the government earlier this year, allegedly for moving its transmission site without permission.

 

SHORTWAVE NEWS

 

BURUNDI: Radio Burundi has reactivated its transmitter on 6140. This has been erratic for many years, particularly recently. It is now operating slightly off-channel on around 6140.2, which may be an aid to identifying it. Unfortunately the audio level is rather low and the transmitter's operation continues to be highly irregular, so even in Nairobi reception remains unreliable.

 

MOZAMBIQUE: Although Burundi has reappeared on shortwave, it seems that Mozambique has joined the sad list of African countries (including neighbouring Malawi) that are off shortwave.

 

SUDAN: As already reported by Tony Rogers and others, this is back on its old frequency of 7200, though with very weak signals here.

 

Here are some other updates to the list of African domestic stations published in the July 2001 edition of Communication:

 

4885/4915/4935 KBC. As noted above, none of these are active at present.

 

5066 Radio Candip. I can confirm that this is active.

 

5500 Voice of Tigray Revolution. The parallel channel for this is currently 6315, not 7515.

 

5985 Radio Tanzania. This station is now on both 5050 and 5985 throughout the day, although 5985 outlet is unreliable. 7280 has not been heard and appears to have been replaced by 5985.

 

6015 Voice of Tanzania, Zanzibar. This is the correct frequency (not 6105 as listed). It only appears to be used in the morning (until 0600).

 

6210 and 6940 Radio Fana. This begins its afternoon/evening transmission on weekdays at 1300 (not 1500 as listed). It signs on with an attractive interval signal.

 

6713.3 Bukavu is indeed active on this distinctive frequency.

 

Best wishes from the over one-mile-high vibrant city of Nairobi, where we have now passed the worst of the "winter" and temperatures are climbing again.    Chris

 

UPDATE ON SOMALI RADIO STATIONS

 

The following are observations on radio stations in Somalia from BBCM's East Africa Unit in Nairobi. It should be noted that the Somali radio scene is fluid, sometimes very much so. This is often very directly related to political and military events on the ground. For example, Kismaayo (where there are thought to be some FM stations) changed hands between factions twice during the week of this report. So, any information about stations and their schedules may be perishable.

 

STATIONS IN MOGADISHU

 

Radio Banaadir. Takes its name from Banaadir region, encompassing Mogadishu and its immediate environs. Began broadcasting in early 2000, at which time it was said to be supportive of faction leader Husayn Haji Bod. It is now seen as being fairly independent, possibly with a slight bias towards the interim government (of which Bod is a member). It broadcasts on FM in Mogadishu and used to be heard on shortwave (in the 7 MHz band), but this is not being observed at present.

 

HornAfrik. This station broke new ground when it was opened in late 1999 as being the first in Mogadishu not tied to a political or military faction. It is also the BBC's rebroadcasting partner in

Mogadishu. It broadcasts on FM. Its web site - http://www.hornafrik.com - offers audio from HornAfrik radio as well as textual material in both Somali and English.

 

Radio Mogadishu, Voice of the People of the Somali Republic. This is the radio of faction leader Aydid and the longest running station in Mogadishu. It began broadcasting in 1993 when the late Aydid senior (Muhammad Farah Aydid) set it up as a replacement for the former state-controlled Radio Mogadishu, which he had seized and used as his mouthpiece before it was destroyed by US military forces. The station has not been on the air continuously since then, but it is active now. It now supports Aydid junior (Husayn Muhammad Aydid) and is a mouthpiece for the Somali National Alliance (SNA) and the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC). It is strongly opposed to the interim government. The radio is observed station on 6750 kHz shortwave and is also believed to broadcast on FM in Mogadishu.

 

Note: Faction leaders Uthman Ali Ato and Ali Mahdi Muhammad used to operate their own radio stations in Mogadishu, but these are now both thought to be defunct.

 

STATIONS ELSEWHERE IN SOMALIA

 

Radio Hargeysa. The official station of the Republic of Somaliland and operational since Somaliland declared its independence in 1991. It is observed on 7530 kHz shortwave. It is also believed to broadcast in Hargeysa on mediumwave.

 

Radio Galkacyo. Located in the northeastern self-declared state of Puntland. In the past Radio Galkacyo could be heard in Nairobi on shortwave (in the 7 MHz band) but is not observed at present. However, reports from R Galkacyo are posted on web site http://www.allpuntland.com

 

Also in Puntland there are FM stations in Garoowe (Puntland capital) and the port of Boosaaso.

 

It should be noted that the Puntland administration is currently riven by factionalism between deposed leader Abdullahi Yusuf and the new leader, Yusuf Haji Nur. Galkacyo is the former's home town, and so it seems likely that Radio Galkacyo will continue to broadcast in his support.

 

Radio Kismaayo (southern Somalia). This was heard on shortwave 6900 kHz last year (at which time Kismaayo was in the hands of the forces of Aydid and the Somali National Front, SNF) but has not been heard recently. In view of the changeable military situation in Kismaayo, and southern Somalia in general, it is possible that the station is now defunct or dormant. We believe that there are, or have been, some FM radios operating in Kismaayo.

 

Radio Baydhabo (or Baidoa) (southern Somalia). This station, supporting the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA; opposed to the interim government and reportedly backed by Ethiopia), has been heard recently on 6810 kHz from sign-on 1500, in Somali and Rahanwein.

 

The RRA's web site - http://www.arlaadi.com - has links to audio files from Radio Baydhabo.

 

(Chris Greenway, BBCM, 9th August via DXLD, with up-date on Radio Baydhabo 23rd August)

 

(c) Copyright British DX Club

Press to Go Home

Updated: 6 Nov 2001