Tonga.OnAir: Zongwe FM transmission improved

A team of AZFA delegates led by Peter Kuthan, AZFA Chair person, visited Sinazongwe in Zambia's Southern Province from the 20th to the 31st of July 2013 to render support to the Community Radio station Zongwe FM. The radio experts Marcus Diess and Mario Friedwagner installed a 500watt-transmitter, replacing the old one (with 100watt only). Zongwe FM’s transmission radius has now more than doubled the previous one in a bid to enhance a wider broadcasting coverage of the station at 105.0 MHz. They also dealt with all the faults in the studio in a bid to facelift it for a full operation and provided for some relevant training.


AZFA is a partner association of Basilwizi Trust, a Zimbabwean NGO which is rendering support to Zongwe FM community radio. Basilwizi Trust is the implementing partner in this collaboration, with Panos Southern Africa in Lusaka providing for essential logistical and technical assistance.

Prior to the installation of this new powerful transmitter, the station used to barely reach communities 20km away. Sinazongwe and Binga communities are now immensely benefitting from these effort, where people at places such as Manjolo, some 30km from the border post, can now tune to Zongwe FM easily and receive a clear signal.

“Now that we have installed this transmitter, I assure the community of Sinazongwe a wider transmission radius”, said the radio engineer Marcus, “this however depends on the topology of the receiving area – the transmission may not go far in hilly or mountainous places,” he added.

Zongwe FM has since then managed to reach out to towns such as Mamba, Sinazeze, Jordan Fisheries and as far as Binga across the lake in Zimbabwe.

Addressing members in a Board and planning meeting for the radio station, Mr Kuthan emphasised on a vision 2020 of Tonga.OnAir – like a truly independent location for Zongwe FM station or a twinning station across the waters in Binga. The board members confirmed that by 2020, the radio station would have gone several strides in the broadcasting field.

In the same meeting, staff and community were encouraged to use the station in developing, sustaining and preserving the Tonga culture that is on the verge of extinction.

“Radio is a powerful and easily accessed media which we should use to drive cultural and social agendas,” said Godfrey Chilumbi, the Secretary of the stations Board.

Earlier on this year the station radio announcers were trained by Basilwizi Trust in Journalism and Broadcasting skills with an exposure visit to Mazabuka Community Radio Station. Mario Friedwagner, an AZFA team member who works for a community radio station in Austria, buttressed these skills with a two week workshop on audio recording and editing.

The AZFA trio also officially handed over donated radio station equipment to the community of Sinazongwe. The Palace was being represented at this occasion by the Chief’s advisor, Mr Manje who thanked Mr Kuthan and his team, PanosSAf, Basilwizi and indeed the community of Sinazongwe for the effort made in face-lifting the radio station. Mr Manje told the gathering that the improved transmission had a positive impact in advertising for Lwiindi Maliko cultural celebrations for 2013 and in broadcasting it. Basilwizi Trust as the implementing partner organisation in this association will continue giving support to the radio station in terms of the skills needed for its smooth operations.

AZFA is also into supporting ITCs in Sinazongwe and Binga Districts. Currently the implementing partner, Basilwizi Trust, has through its Zongwe OnAir Project, managed to create some media clubs in Malima and Sinazongwe in a bid to expand its ICT promotion activities. Information access is being improved by the supply of weekly newspapers to the media centres.

By Josias Mungombe, Basilwizi Trust