Amid music, speeches, and much fanfare, a grand opening ceremony was held December 14 for the new independent radio station for the Sudan Radio Service (SRS) in Juba, Southern Sudan.
The new station greatly expands the reach of SRS, which delivers news, education programs, and music in 12 languages. Broadcasts previously originated from studios in Nairobi, Kenya, using shortwave radio frequencies. SRS will now offer additional programming and increase its current coverage from 6 to 15 hours a day using a high quality FM signal. Originally built in New Jersey, the station’s new transmitter, studios, and radio tower were re-assembled by hand in Juba over many months.
Speaking at the launch event were officials of the government of Southern Sudan, officials of the U.S. Consulate in Juba, and representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which funds the radio service. EDC’s Victor Lugala was master of ceremonies.
The station symbolizes the importance of free speech and freedom of the press, said USAID Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg. She also praised the government of Southern Sudan for supporting those values. The Council General of the U.S. Consulate, Ambassador Barrie Walkley, also spoke about the power of the media in Africa.
“This is a great moment for SRS, and we can say that SRS has come a long way,” said SRS project manager Jane Kariuki. “This has been a long journey. From the inception of SRS, this was a dream that was always in the pipeline.”
Before the ceremony, USAID hosted an all-day open house for the organizations working in Southern Sudan. EDC’s South Sudan Interactive Radio Instruction (SSIRI) program featured its work, which includes lessons that are broadcast on the new 98.6 SRS FM. Established by EDC in 2003, SRS was the first independent news source in Sudan. Modeled after National Public Radio in the United States, its staff includes about 40 journalists and producers based in Sudan and Nairobi. Existing SRS bureaus throughout Sudan, as well as special coverage of Darfur through a two-year U.S. Department of State grant, will continue to operate from both Juba and Nairobi.
The referendum to decide on independence for Southern Sudan will be held on January 9.
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), is a global nonprofit organization that addresses some of the world’s most urgent challenges in education, health, and economic development. EDC manages 350 projects in 35 countries. Visit edc.org.