Tonga.OnAir : Overhaul and Upgrade of Sinazongwe Community Radio

The establishment of a community radio station in Sinazongwe assisted by a team of Austrian radio activists in 2007 has been aiming to improve communication and access to information in this remote area. The station is based at Sinazongwe Basic School and has the capacity to cover a radius of 20 kilometer reaching out to approximately 10 000 people.

Now an overhaul of the station is due in July/August this year with the set up of a new transmitter expanding its range to cover the whole community as far as Mamba and Kanchindu. An application for the relevant licence is in the pipeline with fund-raising still in progress to cover the costs.

Alongside the set up of a new transmitter, improved mast and overhaul of the radio-studio, the Austrian team with Marcus Diess and Mario Friedwagner will conduct a training programme to enhance the capacity of the local community to run the studio and radio station. The community has already established a task force and management committee. Further skills transfer will be facilitated by Panos Southern Africa in Lusaka, a NGO with sound expertise in communication for development in the region.


There are quite a number of friends and well wishers here in Austria contributing to this mission in terms of hardware and other donations. Actually we are looking forward to meet Chief Sinazongwe and the Budima group Maliko again to celebrate these achievements at the forthcoming Lwiindi 2012 with the whole community and guests from afar.

The project Tonga.OnAir has been developed and implemented in close collaboration with Basilwizi Trust, a Zimbabwean NGO based in Bulawayo and its Tonga.Online team in Binga. We welcome Panos Southern Africa on the Zambian side as new partners in this endeavour. In fact the two projects are perfectly complementing each other since they share the same goals: to capacitate and equip the Tonga community to use modern technology for their information and communication needs, for free expression and self-representation and for the promotion of their unique cultural heritage.

Both projects are emphasising an open access approach in order not to serve and empower just a few but the community at large. There is also a shared vision that modern IT technology will eventually contribute to the healing of the split in the community caused by its relocation and resettlement due to the building of Kariba dam in the nineteenfifties.

Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association has been active in the field of cultural exchange between artists in Austria and Southern Africa since 1993. After expanding this program into the field of ICT for development with the Tonga.Online project in Binga it was quite sensitive to reach out across the Lake and involve the Tonga community on the Zambian shore also. When Chief Sinazongwe and Maliko group of Budima musicians/dancers attended a festival at the occasion of the opening of computer centres in Siachilaba and Siansundu in 2004 the foundation of a fruitful cultural collaboration across the waters has been laid and is blossoming since.

17th June 2013

Peter Kuthan

Chairman AZFA

Linz / Austria