BBC to launch radio amnesty campaign for Africa

MUMBAI: On 6 July 2005, the BBC launches a radio amnesty in aid of African nations – fronted by presenter Nick Knowles - in which listeners can receive discounts on DAB radios.     

The BBC's digital radio team and BBC Radio Five Live have teamed up with manufacturers and high street retailers across the country to offer listeners a discount of 10 per cent on a new digital radio, when they trade in their portable FM sets.

The old sets will then be reconditioned and sent to Somalia and south Sudan, where they will be distributed by the BBC World Service Trust. The amnesty starts on 6 July and lasts until 26 July, during which time Five Live will support the project on air and around a thousand stores up and down the country will take part. Knowles – already recognised for his work with Comic and Sport Relief - is promoting the campaign on behalf of the BBC and will be raising the project's profile.

He said, "A disused radio set, gathering dust in a spare room in Tunbridge Wells, could end up making a real difference to a family in Somalia. Every set that is traded in will help the educational projects the World Service Trust runs in Africa."

BBC Radio and Music Interactive controller Simon Nelson says, "We're delighted to be working with retailers, manufacturers and the World Service Trust on this project. Everyone involved benefits from this initiative: consumers get a discount, DAB radios sales will increase, and it all helps to support some of the fantastic work the World Service Trust is doing in Africa."

Retailers will accept battery-powered FM/AM radios (not hi-fi separates or mains only sets), which will be reconditioned, fitted with new batteries and shipped for distribution by the BBC World Service Trust and its partner, the African Educational Trust (AET). The trust and the AET will use the radios to further their work on the Somalia Distance Education for Literacy project - or 'Radio Teacher' - which offers education to men and women who have grown up during civil war with no chance of schooling.

There is a shortage of Somali teachers and there are few western volunteers, so the only choice is to use the mass media. The BBC states that radio is by far the most widespread medium in Somalia,.

The project teaches literacy through discussions of issues like human rights, health and environmental protection, and has been a great success, with 10,000 people registering for the first teaching cycle. Given the success of the first phase of literacy training in Somalia, the series is now being run for a second time, with a further 7,000 students signing up. The BBC World Service Trust and AET are also planning to replicate the literacy project for the south Sudanese audience and are also exploring the possibility of training farmers and teachers using similar techniques.

The more radios made available to audiences in Somalia and Sudan, the more students will be able to benefit from these projects.

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