Radio Azadi, an Afghan station within Radio Free Europe, has added an interactive SMS service, with a particular eye to reaching villagers in inaccessible regions.
While the concept of trying to reach remote villagers this way may seem oxymoronic, Radio Free Europe officials say Afghanistan actually has an estimated 57% mobile use penetration rate, with 17 million subscribers total.
“Thanks to a recent partnership between RFE and mobile service provider Etisalat, mobile phone users in Afghanistan can now subscribe to free SMS news updates and emergency alerts from Radio Azadi,” it stated. The service is free.
Officials said that the project launched in the past month and has received 5,000 texts. “This ‘citizen journalism’ is unique in Afghanistan,” stated RFE Associate Director of Broadcasting Akbar Ayazi in the announcement.
Twice daily, Etisalat customers who subscribe get news headlines in Dari or Pashto. They also receive SMS messages with breaking news and alerts.
Radio Azadi launched eight years ago; RFE says it is now the most popular media outlet in that country.