KAMPALA — The East Africa Radio Service (EARS), a Ugandan-German start-up has clocked onto something that other platforms haven’t, which is that to solve the problem of fake news and misleading content on the coronavirus pandemic in rural Uganda.
EARs a radio station representation that gives small and medium-sized radio stations access to lucrative advertising revenues now— uses ‘corona radio opera soaps to provide Uganda’s rural population, which is over 95% with high-quality information about the Coronavirus disease.
The messages are translated in their respective languages via radio stations.
The Start-up Managing Director, Douglas Mutumba explains that the 18-episode radio drama series dubbed “The Pearl” and WhatsApp quiz serve to inform and engage listeners on radio which has remained the king, despite the mobile and digital revolution.
“Currently, information on the coronavirus is mainly provided by the Ugandan Ministry of Health. Since the Ugandan government does not enjoy the highest level of trust in all parts of the country, we are producing ‘Corona Radio soap operas’ with relevant content that really affects people, with many small radio stations throughout the country,” Mutumba said
At least, EARS network of radio stations in Uganda already reaches more than 80 % of the Ugandan population and is, therefore, plays and important part in the education and prevention efforts against Coronavirus, he says,
“It also contributes to countering fake news. In order to communicate information and measures of protection to the population in an understandable way, soap operas for radio and mobile phones are produced together with the stations in 15 languages. The “radio soaps” are broadcast nationwide on small radio stations and are also offered by telephone,” he notes, adding that, “in a WhatsApp quiz, listeners can answer questions revolving around the disease, its causes and associated guidance and ideas after each program and as an incentive to participate, there is always something to win at the end”.
The East Africa Radio Service(EARS) was founded in 2019 by a German-based non-profit organisation, MiCT in East Africa and was originally an innovative solution to connect national and international advertisers and aid organisations with listeners in remote regions while ensuring that local radio stations generate revenue.
In this way, EARS provides the basis for media diversity and high quality, serious journalism in Uganda.
Currently, EARS represents 80 broadcasters in Uganda and has already generated advertising revenues of more than €100,000(approximately shs400 million) to local radio stations since its launch in March 2019 in the promotion of various government campaigns in education, nutrition and health.
The Covid program is financed with funds from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Germany and the Swiss media development organization, Fondation Hirondelle.