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Opinions of Friday, 13 November 2015

Columnist: Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

ECOWAS TV and Radio broadcasts to begin in 2017

The Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) is preparing to establish a sub- regional radio and television channels for the benefit of the entire 300 million people of the sub-region.

In a news item released online, the new channels are meant to promote integration in the sub-region and help project the identity of its people.

Dr Isaias Barreto da Rosa, the ECOWAS Commissioner in charge of Telecommunication and Information Technologies, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Tuesday.

According to him, the setting up of the station will promote integration in the sub-region and help project the identity of its people

This is not the first time that a media outfit has been set up to broadcast news to the people of the sub-region and Africa as a whole.

During the First Republic, the Government of Ghana led by Dr Kwame Nkrumah established the external service of Radio Ghana to provide information on activities in Ghana and Africa to the nations of West Africa in Hausa, English, French and Arabic.

The programs on the external service which proved successful by helping to tell our own stories were meant to promote unity and integration of the people of West Africa sub-region and Africa as a whole. However, the external service programs terminated with the overthrow of the government of Dr. Nkrumah in 1966.

According to Barreto da Rosa, back in the year 2000, the Heads of State of the 50 member states decided on the establishment of a radio and television channel for the community to promote the West African unity and identity.

“We have free movement of goods and people, a common passport for the entire sub-region.

“We are about to launch a biometric ID card that would allow people to move and settle in any ECOWAS member state without resident permit and have been making tremendous progress as far as regional integration is concerned therefore Setting up a television channel is a very expensive project.

“There was a pre-feasibility study, but we are at the initial phase of this project and we are going to run a feasibility study reaching out to partners so we can move ahead with this project for our sub-region and are aiming to launch the radio and television channel in 2017.

The commissioner said that the project would provide adequate information about ECOWAS, its visions, projects, programs, successes and challenges.

He explained that the existence of the radio/ television channel would help in enlightening the people and enhancing their participation in the realization of the vision and objectives of the sub-region.

Barreto da Rosa further said that the commission would collaborate with local media organizations and the private sector to bring the project to fruition.

He added that the collaboration will cut across the multilingual composition of the sub-region.

“The promotion of the West African identity, values, the plural characteristics of the member states and the aspects that unite the 300 million people that live within the sub-region, are the core objectives of this radio and television channel.

“Since this will be a West African radio and television channel, we will work to make this channel reach all West African citizens with the language issues taken into consideration.

“One of the core aspects of this channel is that we will not be competing with any local radio and television station within the sub-region.

“We will be partnering with them because we believe that through exchange of content, we could indeed broadcast content from other media organizations to the most remote areas of the sub-region.”

Barreto da Rosa also stated that the commission will cooperate with the different partners as the project unfolds.

He hinted that the ECOWAS Heads of States and Government will decide the most suitable location for the radio/television channel adding that the ECOWAS Secretariat will monitor and update members on it.

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