In Mali’s rural areas the good old radio still is the most important medium to deliver the latest news.

The wide audience of FM Pewo

Most Malian families don’t have television, and newspapers are scarce. The towns and villages of Mali’s interior can best be reached by radio broadcasting. In Mpessoba Mamadou Coulibaly is managing local radio station FM Pewo that runs on electricity generated by solar energy.

In the radio studio Mamadou Coulibaly talks about his radio station enthusiastically: “The radio station is very popular in this region. We broadcast a mix of local, national and international news. The government sends us broadcasts on health issues and the education of youngsters on a regular basis. We also give local kids the opportunity to present and dj.”

Significant cost reduction with solar energy

“We used to work with a generator, which used about ten liters of gasoline a day. It cost us a fortune. Using solar energy decreased our costs significantly,” explains Mamadou Coulibaly. A radio station of course uses more electricity than an ordinary solar system can provide. To meet the higher energy demand, Yeelen Kura installed six solar panels and 23 batteries at the radio station.

Future plans

Still it’s quite hard to make the radio station profitable. The station is completely dependent on advertisement revenues, which are brought in predominantly by the local audience. “Large companies are still a bit hesitant about buying air time. We can broadcast within a radius of about 60 kilometers. Ideally we would broadcast twice as far, but then we need a 50 meters high antenna. Hopefully we’ll manage to get some sponsors to achieve this goal.”

In the picture: Boubacar Thiero (technician and radio presenter at FM Pewo)