17 October 2013 saw the launch of Ubuntu Radio, South Africa’s first government-run, 24-hour, online radio station. From 2015, Ubuntu Radio is also available on DSTV’s audio bouquet, increasing its reach to over 45 African countries and over 10 million potential listeners.
These historical developments are consistent with the active and prominent role that South Africa plays in global affairs.
The idea behind the station’s conception was a need to create a platform for exchange of views and opinions by key players who contribute to shaping South Africa’s foreign policy. These would include government institutions, the diplomatic community, civil society, academia, media, students and other role-players in the field of international relations.
Ubuntu Radio aims to create a fair and balanced representation of the work of the department and the Government as a whole, and to clearly and consistently present the policies and decisions of the South African Government.
South Africa’s foreign policy has been consistently in the spotlight since the country became a member of various global and strategic formations such as the United Nations Security Council; the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) grouping; the India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) initiative; and the G20.
In addition, South Africa’s continuous role and engagement in the activities of the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) have positioned our country firmly as a formidable contributor in the regional and global political scene.
Due to South Africa’s increased role and mandate in the international arena, it is important that immediate and accessible platforms are used to communicate South Africa’s foreign policy and to promote Brand South Africa domestically and abroad.
In essence, the station is a reaffirmation of the South African Government’s continuous commitment to ensuring that its work and contributions in global politics are widely understood, recognised, appreciated, and most fundamentally, located within the context of the country’s foreign policy.
In choosing an Internet-based radio station over a mainstream radio station, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) was inspired by the results of extensive research conducted on the effectiveness, influence and listenership of Internet-based radio stations throughout the world.
Research indicates that Internet-based radio has gained momentum over the past 10 years, and its benefits are visible. South Africans are no different from the rest of the world and are also embracing digital technology to communicate in ways that could never have been imagined just a few years ago.
By design, the targeted listenership of South Africa and Africa’s first government online radio station is not limited to South African citizens, but includes the international community.
This station will be able to reach many parts of the world, especially those people with access to the Internet. For those without access, South African missions abroad will complement this through their regular outreach programmes.
The shows on Ubuntu Radio set in motion dialogue on South Africa’s foreign policy, and stimulate public discourse on issues of national and international significance. The shows will also seek to create a platform, and promote an ongoing conversation between DIRCO and its key stakeholders at home and abroad. The content of the shows will be knowledge-based, focussing on current regional and global affairs, as well as on social and cultural issues.
The uniqueness of the station lies in the state-of-the-art technology used in the creation of its website. It has an active web link to DIRCO’s official website www.dirco.gov.za, which extends access to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Internet connectivity in South Africa and the rest of the African continent requires greater penetration. To overcome this, Ubuntu Radio exchanges content for broadcast with identified media partners, including the SABC’s Channel Africa and community radio stations, for greater reach and influence.
As a multimedia platform, Ubuntu Radio is immediate, and runs live broadcasts, including the live coverage of and live crossing from events, media briefings and conferences. Most importantly, this station is a major source of reliable, recent and trusted news on South Africa’s foreign policy, 24/7.