Three members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Dana Perino, Susan McCue, and Michael Meehan, will visit Ethiopia, South Sudan and Nigeria to broaden the Voice of America’s reach and impact in Africa.
Updates, observations, and photos about the trip will be posted via Twitter (hashtag #usib) and in a weblog http://voaontheroadafrica.tumblr.com/.
Board members will meet with high-ranking government officials, VOA journalists and broadcasting affiliates to address challenges and opportunities in the region.
“This is an important opportunity for us to meet with these courageous and innovative journalists where they work, and to reinforce the vital role of a free and unfettered press in each of these countries,” said BBG Governor Dana Perino. “VOA and its local partners play an instrumental role addressing bedrock health and welfare issues, and providing balanced news coverage as well as valuable cultural programming.”
In Ethiopia, they will meet Ethiopian Minister of Government Communications Bereket Simon and other senior government officials as well as representatives of state and private media to seek greater market access.
On the heels of the historic agreement with the People’s Liberation Movement to withdraw forces from the Abyei Area of Sudan, Board members will meet with newly-elected President Salva Kiir, Minister of Information Benjamin Mariel and others to discuss opportunities for cooperation with local partners in support of media development. They will also attend a democracy-in-action town hall meeting organized by VOA where citizens and government officials will discuss important challenges facing the new country.
At their final stop, in Abuja, Nigeria, Governors Perino, McCue, and Meehan will join First Lady Patience Jonathan of Nigeria at a town hall meeting co-sponsored by VOA and Radio France Internationale on public health issues. The Governors will meet with Vice President Namadi Sambo and U.S. Ambassador Terence McCulley to discuss ways to capitalize on VOA’s listenership (21% of adults).
VOA’s audience in Africa is nearly 45 million adults across multiple media platforms, including more than 20 million in Nigeria and 3 million in Ethiopia. Audiences in Sudan’s Darfur region are also served by Afia Darfur of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, which is broadcast in Arabic and has an estimated weekly audience of 30% there. Audience reach for VOA’s newly launched English program Sudan in Focus is not yet available.