EAST AFRICAN REPORT
BY CHRIS GREENWAY
ARTICLE FROM COMMUNICATION - EDITION 327 - FEBRUARY 2002
Greetings once again from Nairobi, where we are now enjoying the hottest and driest season of the year. I returned here in early January after almost three months away, mostly spent in the Ghanaian capital Accra.
FM IN NAIROBI
On my return to Kenya I had to do some catching up with the local media scene. I found that a new FM station had opened in the city during my absence. It is called "East Africa Radio" and is notable for the fact that it is broadcasting simultaneously in three East African cities: Nairobi, Kenya (on 94.7 MHz); Kampala, Uganda (99.0); and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (87.8). The radio is based in Dar. Its programming is largely music-based, but there is news on the hour in either English or Swahili. The station announces a web site of eastafricafm.com, but my attempts to reach this site have been unsuccessful. However, I believe that East Africa Radio may be part of the same Tanzanian media group that operates Radio One, ITV television and various newspapers in that country.
Then, on 19th January, I noticed that Radio Citizen, a Nairobi FM station that was forcibly closed down by the authorities last April, had resumed broadcasting on its old frequency of 106.7. As I write, it seems that they've yet to get their full programme schedule back on the air.
Also back on the FM dial (at 89.5) is the KBC's Eastern Service. You may recall that in my East African Reports last year I noted that this service was in financial trouble, which had forced it to suspend its shortwave outlet, and then the whole service. During my absence the service returned to the air on both FM and shortwave. The later frequency (4915) is now the only the only shortwave broadcast outlet from Kenya. Unfortunately for DXers its audio quality is rather poor and it shares a channel with Ghana.
All these developments bring the number of stations broadcasting in Nairobi on FM to 18! And I should add that all of them are audible with good reception on an ordinary portable set with no external aerial.
As has been widely reported, two stations are currently broadcasting into Zimbabwe each evening on shortwave in an attempt to break the Mugabe government's monopoly of the airwaves. Both stations are clearly audible here in Kenya. They are:
SW Radio Africa at 1600-1900 GMT on 6145 kHz
Radio VOP, Voice of the People at 1700-1755 GMT on 7120 kHz
Reception of SW Radio Africa is particularly good, notably for the final two hours of its broadcast. This would fit in with the theory that the station, which has studios in London, is using the Meyerton transmitting station near Johannesburg in South Africa. Signals on 6145 from South Africa beamed north-northeast towards Zimbabwe would then carry on nicely to reach us here in Kenya. And the fact that my reception is rather poor at the start of the broadcast is in line with the fact that, at this time of year, at 1600 GMT it is still quite sometime before sunset in southern Africa and so propagation on 6 MHz is not very good.
If you can't hear SW Radio Africa where you live, its transmissions are available live on the Internet at http://www.swradioafrica.com
Reception here of the other station - Radio VOP - is not as good as it is for SW Radio Africa, which is not surprising as it is coming from the Radio Netherlands relay station in Madagascar, and so in Kenya we are only receiving signals off the side of its main beam.
An exciting find for me on 21st January was the reappearance of Malawi on shortwave (7130 kHz). On 24th January it was subsequently heard going past 1700 but had closed by 1730 or so. Next day it closed, somewhat suddenly, at 1630, which was a pity as the signal was good. So, should be a possible late afternoon catch in the UK unless you have something strong on 7130. It is spot on channel and with good audio.
In the mornings it is not on first thing, but is there by 0600. Even here in Nairobi, reception in the middle of the day is very poor (southern hemisphere summer conditions).
I believe this is the first time that Malawi has been definitely heard on shortwave for about a year. Many of us had feared that Malawi had joined the list of African countries that had left shortwave for good.
This country has often been in the news recently as the possible next target for US military action. Regular followers of the Somali radio scene will know that it is changeable, and schedule information can quickly go out of date. However, for those wishing to have a go for a Somali catch, the following stations have all been heard recently in Nairobi:
6810 - Radio Baydhabo (Baidoa)
6985 - Radio Gaalkacyo (Galcaio), now much easier to hear and identify with the Sudanese opposition station having moved from this channel to 6965
7002 - Radio Banaadir in Mogadishu
7530 - Radio Hargeysa in Somaliland
Best wishes from Nairobi, Chris
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