The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for South Dayi Constituency in the Volta Region, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, has advocated improved access and internet connectivity to benefit the rural poor.
“The fact that many of our communities are unable to access communication services due to the unavailability or poor internet services, calls for urgent action to improve information flow among the rural folks,” he said.
Mr Dafeamekpor said this when he made a statement on the floor of Parliament yesterday to mark this year’s World Radio Day.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) celebrates World Radio Day on February 13 each year by planning activities with broadcasters, organisations and communities across the globe.
The first World Radio Day was officially celebrated in the year 2012.
The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Radio and Peace”.
According to Mr Dafeamekpor, data from the National Communications Authority indicated that as at the third quarter of 2019, there were a total of 477 radio stations authorised to operate in Ghana.
They comprised 31 public radio stations, five public foreign radio stations, 73 community radio stations, 21 campus radio stations and 347 commercial radio stations.
The records from the NCA further showed that by the third quarter of 2019, there were 59 community radio stations in operation out of the 73 authorised to operate in various communities across the country.
But the MP said: “These community radio stations are woefully inadequate if we are to meet the information needs of rural people.”
“Mr Speaker, due to its portability, we have all had experiences, one way or the other, especially for those of us who were either engaged in farming and fishing, to move around with our radio sets to be able to stay up to speed with the times,” he said.
He underscored the recognition of the ability of radio to fuel conflict and the ability of professional independent radio to reconstruct talks to bring peace.
“Mr Speaker, many of us Members of Parliament are from rural areas where radio continues to play a significant role in our information dissemination efforts. The tedious nature of radio network receivers in some remote areas gives rise to the need for community radio stations to be allowed and established. Even though community radio stations have unique setups, which are expected to be owned and run by the specific communities, they require to be authorised by the National Communications Authority,” he said.
Quoting extensively from selected research, the MP asserted that community radio provided platforms for the discussions of livelihood programmes that were specific to the communities and provided the platform for the empowerment of community members.
He indicated that community members were allowed to participate in development planning, which was key to sustainable development through the use of community radio.
Mr Dafeamekpor also underscored the importance of radio in human development, saying it had contributed more to saving lives during natural or man-made disasters than any other means outside the media circle.
He said despite being more than a century old, radio remained one of the most widely used platforms for social interaction, information exchange and education.
“It has been used to assist people, notably youth, in having conversations about issues that concern them,” he said.
“Mr Speaker, radio technology has evolved since its inception and today, we have the luxury of streaming via internet radio. Additionally, radio broadcasts are carried through other new media channels in order to reach the technologically advanced population of the world,” he said.