Volunteers of the Esperanzah! World Music Festival are setting up a community radio station in the West-African republic of Burkina Faso.
For five years, the Esperanzah! event (staged in the Floreffe Abbey in Belgium) has been financially supporting the Festival Dilembu au Gulmu (FESDIG) in the Gulmu region of Burkina Faso. Both the Belgian and the Burkina Faso festivals, which have benefited from a close cooperation over the years, decided to intensify their collaboration at the request of FESDIG festival director Alfred Ouoba.
“During the Belgian festival we have our own radio Esperanzah!, which transmits on a temporary frequency with a limited broadcast license,” said Caroline Quintero, Esperanzah! volunteer. “We rapidly had the idea to set up a similar station at the FESDIG event.”
Quintero explained that the country’s public service broadcaster, Radio Nationale Burkina and its numerous local radio stations don’t reach Gulmu — a very isolated region with a high percentage of illiteracy. “So instead of just setting up a four-day station (the festival took place between March 6–9), we decided on a more structural solution and decided to prepare the launch of a full-scale radio station later this year,” she said.
In February, 12 volunteers travelled to Gulmu with radio gear, comprising two FM exciters, an Elenos amplifier and a broadband dipole antenna, lent by the Lille, France-based studio integrator Antennes Digital Broadcast.
“We opted for analog equipment in view of the local transport and weather conditions,” said Fred Cools, radio staffer with Radio Esperanzah! and Radio 48FM. “The studio configuration was put together with basic elements that were salvaged from other broadcast studios.” Other equipment will be purchased from local suppliers, based on the actual needs of the station.
The volunteer group includes various radio station employees from Belgium — one of them will remain in Burkina Faso for one year to help set up the station. “Meanwhile, Esperanzah! Festival director René Georges, and FESDIG’s Alfred Ouoba are negotiating with the local authorities to obtain the necessary licences,” said Quintero.
The project is co-financed by Esperanzah! — the volunteers organized a fundraising festival in Brussels on Feb. 8 and are now looking for co-investors via the IndentityCoop crowdfunding project, to allow for investments in studio equipment.
— Marc Maes