Radio coverage up in Zimbabwe

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

Radio coverage in Zimbabwe has increased to 80% of the country while television transmission has increased from 45 to 75%, according to Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu.

Zimbabwe has one of the lowest radio and television penetration ratios of developing economies in Africa because of little investment in the communications sector. Analysts attribute the low investment to government’s desire to control information dissemination in a sector where many players are state-owned or controlled.

Late last year, the regulatory Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) awarded two radio licenses to AB Communications and Talk Radio as free to air independent radio stations, but the recipients are seen as government sympathisers by some.

Marking World Radio Day this week, Shamu said only two of the country’s four stations - Radio Zimbabwe and Power FM – had achieved 80% coverage.

"Radio Zimbabwe and Power FM coverage of the country is now 80% after work was completed on all the 24 Frequency Modulation sites while National FM and SFM coverage has reached 60%.

"Through Transmedia, Government has been implementing a television digitalisation programme and working to expand television transmission and reception."

He said three television transmitters had installed in Beitbridge, Plumtree and Victoria Falls, areas that had previously relied mainly on South Africa, Botswana or Zambia broadcasts.

Construction of towers was underway at St Alberts in Mount Darwin and in Mudzi, while work on 10 more sites would start this year if the promised funding of USD5.1 million is released by the treasury.

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