The newly launched Ubuntu Radio, a 24-hour internet radio station, will officially go live tonight at 7pm.
Run by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), the station, which will be in talk radio format, is aimed at enhancing communication on South Africa’s foreign policy and will tell African stories from the African perspective.
“South Africa has a good story to tell and we have done extremely well over the past 20 years. Our foreign policy has evolved but that story is not being told,” said Dirco’s Head of Public Diplomacy, Clayson Monyela.
Speaking to the media ahead of the official launch, Monyela said the station will be a major source of reliable, recent and trusted news and conversations on foreign policy, especially now that South Africa is increasingly looking to position itself as a significant player on the continent as well as globally.
“It’s going to be a platform to change the views and opinions as well as getting inputs that can help shape South Africa’s foreign policy going forward,” said Monyela.
With a target audience including both South Africans and the international community, Monyela said the station would raise public awareness and stimulate public discourse on the country’s foreign policy.
“The station will change how Africa is covered.”
It is the first of its kind on the African continent and the first in South Africa to operate under the auspices of a government institution for non-commercial purposes.
As a multimedia platform, Ubuntu is immediate, and will run live broadcasts of major department events, announcements and campaigns. It will also cover news and play African music.
There will also be lots of discussions, phone-in programmes, where listeners will be invited to provide their views on some of the issues being discussed.
“We are not going to talk at our audience, but we are going to have discussions and conversations because people need to know what informs decisions on certain matters,” said Monyela.
As such, they have roped in opinion makers, think-tanks, academics, diplomats and other key players in the field of diplomacy and international relations to host shows.
Among the contributors to the station will be Professor Eddie Moloka, analyst Siphamandla Zondi and reputation architect Thebe Ikalafeng.
Other familiar names include actress Florence Masebe, news anchor Kgopedi Wa-Namane, Richard Nwamba, Chief Ntshingila, Mabine Seabe and JP Louw.
“We decided to involve people. Some are critics of our work, some are experts,” said Monyela, adding that the department was still talking to other personalities to complement the international staff.
While Monyela acknowledged the limited Internet access in South Africa, he said the department was developing apps for mobile technology, ensuring that their platform is accessible to as many people who have the means.
The station will also extend its reach by exchanging content for broadcast with identified media partners, including SABC’s Channel Africa.
The uniqueness of the station will be in the state-of-the-art technology that has gone into the creation of its website.
It has an active web link to the department’s website – extending access to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as to the department’s Diplomat and Ubuntu Magazines.
Ubuntu Magazine has been out since August 2012 and will complement work done by the radio station.
Ubuntu Magazine, Dirco’s first external publication, is already available online at www.dirco.gov.za and will have a link on Ubuntu Radio’s website, www.ubunturadio.com
Dirco Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane officially launched the station in South Africa.