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Updated Feb 17, 2020

Despite every year seeing more of the world’s population getting their information through television, the internet, and social media, radio remains the most-used information source across much of Africa. Oumou Dembele, a news presenter for Mali’s Radio Kledu, spoke with Deutsche Welle to give some insight into the importance of their work and the challenges they face, including difficulties in accessing certain areas due to the presence of armed groups. 

Only 30 percent of Malians are connected to mobile internet. In rural communities, there is a lack of telecommunications infrastructure and the power supply is inconsistent, so most people rely on battery-powered radios for information. Even in a highly developed country like South Africa, 90 percent of the population still tune in to radio stations regularly.

Using a battery-powered radio is not the only way Africans tune in; listeners are also using their cell phones, many of which come with a built-in FM receiver, or social media like Facebook and Twitter to engage with their preferred radio programs. Traditional linear radio programs maintain their dominance in the African media landscape due to the high cost of mobile data and preferred listening habits. Franz Krüger, head of the Department of Journalism at Wits University and director of the Wits Radio Academy in South Africa, told Deutsche Welle that linear programming can be left on in the background while Africans go about their day, making radio an integrated part of their lives.

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