DRC print media, radio looks to digital
By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo
Despite operating in a highly challenging environment, newspapers and radio stations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are looking to ICTs, to reach wide audiences and stay alive in the current digital world, where traditional print media is struggling.
Most newspapers in this vast Central African nation now have a remarkable online presence, to the delight of online users who cannot afford to buy a printed version of a newspaper which costs 2000 FC (about US$2.50) – a fortune in this mineral-rich country, where 63% of the people live in extreme poverty.
Potential Online.com, La Reference.cd, Forum des As.org, la Prosperité Online.net, le Soft Online.net and Le Phare Online.net (both owned by minister of posts, telecoms and ICTs Kin-Kiey Mulumba) and Groupe l’Avenir.cd (owned by Pius Mwabilu Mbayu, a Member of Parliament), among others, post regular updates to attract local and diaspora online readers keen to know the ins and outs of their vibrant but troubled nation.
Alain Kabuya, a university student, an enthusiastic internet user, told Biztechafrica: “I like reading newspapers but I cannot afford to buy a single copy because they are expensive. I prefer going to an internet café to read their online version.
“Besides, you can read various newspapers online than buying one copy of one newspaper which limits both the flow of information and your understanding of current affairs.”
Radio stations in the DRC also seem to be following suit, with the country’s largest station, the United Nations-funded Radio Okapi (radiookapi.net) having a massive online following base, including Twitter (22 000 followers) and Facebook (158 711 likes).
“Radio Okapi has a packed and impressive website, I like checking it out because I highly appreciate their unbiased reporting, which is rare in this country,” Nzuzi Makondele told Biztechafrica.
Last month, UNESCO hosted a media seminar in the capital Kinshasa and urged the country’s media to stick to ICTs, which it said have led to the generation of new typesof media, such as interactive media.
“An essential feature of interactivity is that there is a mutuality whereby a radio stationand its listeners are both active,” UNESCO DRC representative Abdourahamane Diallo told participants, adding that ICTs created a participatory communication process.
“The integration of ICT in radio programmes is an effective and innovative way to enable community radio stations to gather first-hand information in real-time,” Diallo pointed out.