AFRICA/DEMOCRATIC CONGO - Association of Community Radios at the service of democracy in Democratic Congo

Monday, 8 March 2004

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides)- “Radio stations must build peace; their microphones must be channels of communication not weapons” said Freddy Mulongo, chairman of the Association of Community Radios ARCO in Congo. According to a local Catholic news agency DIA, ARCO, formed 3 years ago, has 67 community radio members many of which are Catholic stations. ARCO members refuse advertising spots to producers of alcohol or tobacco. ARCO statutes include respect for human rights, protection of the environment and opposition to incitement to hatred, xenophobia and tribalism.
The regions with the most ARCO members are Katanga with 18 radio stations and East Kasai with 15. North Kivu has 5 and 20 more are planned. The areas with less radios are Equator and Bandundu.
Catholic Radios are represented in the ARCO board of directors, chaired by Freddy Mulongo, president of Radio Réveil Fm in Kinshasa. Ben Kabamba of Radio Maria in southern Kivu and Ghislain Banza of Buena Mantu Catholic Radio in east Kasai are Vice chairpersons. Brother Narcisse Mongeye of Tomisa Kikwit Catholic Radio is secretary general. In collaboration with Comboni missionary Father Luis Moser, ARCO runs a co-operative which sells radio material and the profits go to Radio members.
Every province of Congo has an ARCO supervisor who provides information and assistance to members.
ARCO has organised a 7 day Seminar on “The Role of Short Wave Radios before and after Elections in Congo ” in Kinshasa 22-27 March. About 100 professional radio operators are expected to attend the Seminar which, in view of political elections, will reflect on how radio can help promote a logic of democracy. The participants will also analyse the activity of other Community Radios in Mali, Senegal and Madagascar which helped to save respective electoral processes in recent years. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 8/3/2004, righe 34 parole 391)