- Radio Hargeisa can now be heard across Somaliland and beyond after the station acquired a shortwave radio transmitter with a 100-kilowatt capacity.
The government-owned radio station, which was established in 1944, was the first radio station in Somaliland. It was badly damaged in the late 1980s but was rebuilt in 1992 after the collapse of the Somali central government.
For the past 20 years, the radio station has operated on an FM frequency with a broadcasting capacity limited to Hargeisa. But now that has changed.
"The new radio transmitter, which has a capacity of 100 kilowatts, was officially opened on October 18th, and that has for the first time enabled Radio Hargeisa to be heard all over the world," station director Said Aden Egeh told Sabahi.
The older transmitter had a radius of only 40 kilometres, whereas the new antenna can reach audiences worldwide if the right frequency is used, he said.
Hargeisa-based Brothers Trading Company was issued the contract to import the new radio transmission equipment, according to Somaliland Ministry of Information Director General Abdirashid Jibril Yusuf.
The equipment was purchased from and installed by BBEF, a Chinese technology company, at a cost of about $1.4 million to the Somaliland administration, Yusuf told Sabahi. Importing and installing the equipment began in April and took about six months to complete.
"For more than ten years, the government has wanted to complete this task, and we are happy that we finally reached our goal," Yusuf said.
Resource for citizens
"People [outside of the city] can for the first time listen to the sound of Radio Hargeisa," Egeh said. "That will give them an opportunity to listen to the news, announcements, programmes and also the entertainment we broadcast."
Egeh said the new radio transmitter is important to help citizens stay informed about the laws, announcements, decrees and services of the regional government. The radio station broadcasts in Somali, English and Amharic ten hours per day.
As preparations are under way for Somaliland local council elections, the station's expanded reach is important so that citizens can keep up with political campaigns, he said.
Egeh said the radio station tries to be neutral in its coverage of political parties and candidates. "We have allocated equal time for the political parties so they can inform the public on their political agendas," he said.
The government-owned radio station is the only radio station currently operating in Hargeisa.
Ibrahim Ahmed Shine, a 30-year veteran technician of Radio Hargeisa, said the government has not done enough to allow private radio stations to enter the market.
He said the ruling party Kulmiye promised in the 2010 election campaign to allow the opening of independent stations, but it has not kept that promise, even though private radio stations are proliferating in the rest of Somalia.
"The law permits their opening, but the government refuses to issue independent radio station licences," he told Sabahi.