In operation since February, 2000, Qwa-Qwa Radio is a community-owned and governed station that broadcasts 24 hours a day. The purpose of the station is to empower the people in the listening area to participate in the sustainable development of the community. The station's slogan is 'Lentswe la hao,' or 'Your Voice.' Its mission is to "promote local culture through relevant programmes in tradition, local talent in music, praise and education." Programming also includes local news in an effort to bolster a sense of belonging, identity, and pride among community members. Another purpose of the project is to encourage gender sensitivity and to challenge stereotypes and forms of abuse.
Communication Strategies: 

This radio programme consists in current affairs features or dramas, each of which is between 5 and 15 minutes in length. Approximately 60 to 70% of the station's programming is in Sotho (Sesotho); the rest is in English. The programming consists in 60% talk and 40% music (20% of which is local South African). The station managers, presenters, guests, and information contributors are members of the community. Feedback on programming is collected from the community in order to increase the relevance and effectiveness of the content. The station also seeks to entertain through music, games, contests, storytelling, jokes, and dedications. At times, members of the community come directly, unannounced, to the station. Thus, groups of workers may provide a spontaneous discussion of problems like job layoffs that are about to occur. Other content, which is mostly pre-packaged, nationally-focused educational/public awareness content, is sent to the station on CD by national radio production houses. Topics include democracy, labour, HIV/AIDS, local government, human rights, and racism/xenophobia. While this is not local content, the stations typically localise the issues through supplemental programming on the topics. The station also conducts live public awareness talk show/call-in programmes. Other programmes focus on school governing bodies, voter education, health, children, democracy, and labour.

The station works with the four other community stations in the Free State Province to produce pre-recorded programmes (which are mostly in Sotho) on gender, disability, women, children, crime prevention, and HIV/AIDS. The station producers gather at one of the five stations' studios to produce the items; stations then localise the content at the time of broadcast through guests/interviews drawn from their respective areas.

Development Issues: 

Cultural Development, Rights, Gender.

Key Points: 

In 1999, the station was licensed under the broadcasting legislation and regulations of South Africa. Qwa-Qwa Radio is a gatherer and sharer of local content. The formal Qwa-Qwa territory (about 600 square kilometres) is a mountainous and densely populated area. There are high levels of unemployment and poverty among the population of about 1 million people, which is mostly peri-urban (in Phuthadijhaba) and rural (gathered around villages). One study showed that 88% of the people of Qwa-Qwa are living below the poverty line. Unemployment is estimated at 45%.

Qwa-Qwa Radio's listenership grew from 36,000 in April, 2000 to 114,000 in June, 2001.

Partner Text: 

Department of Communications, Department of Education, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).


Chapter 2 ("Insights from Existing Initiatives") of "Unlocking economic opportunity in the south through local content: A proposal from the G8 Dotforce" by Peter Armstrong, OneWorld (Editor); Chris Addison, Consultant; Subbiah Arunachalam, MSSRF; Peter Ballantyne, IICD; Hugo Besemer, Consultant; Diane Cabell, Harvard Law School; Pete Cranston, OneWorld; James Jeynes, Accenture; Barbara Keating, OneWorld; Eric Saltzman, Berkman Center, Harvard Law School; John West, Consultant - March 2002. For a copy of the full report, please see Open Knowledge Workspace page on DGroups site, which can be accessed from DGroups site. Or contact Peter Armstrong, Director, One World