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FM Station Is a First for TWR Ministry in Côte d'Ivoire

By TWR Staff
Africa, Cote d'Ivoire, W&C Africa

Among those taking part in the opening festivities for the FM station in Yamoussoukro are Florence Mbamba, left, director of Radio Evangile, and Abdoulaye Sangho, third from left, TWR international director for West Africa.For the first time, TWR's national partner is operating its own radio station in the West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire.

It’s the answer to 26 years of prayer.

The Rev. Abdoulaye Sangho, now TWR international director for West and Central Africa, first applied for an FM license with the government of Côte d’Ivoire in 1996. He had just arrived as the first staff member in the nation and in West Africa for TWR, also known as Trans World Radio.

TWR’s national partner in Côte d’Ivoire, Radio Evangile, originally sought a license to operate in Abidjan, the country’s largest city at 6 million. But he was told there simply were no frequencies available, Sangho said in an interview. Finally, a license was approved for the city of Yamoussoukro, the country’s third-largest city at 600,000. But Yamoussoukro is Côte d’Ivoire’s new capital city and is expected to grow rapidly, Sangho said. It’s also centrally located.

FM stations have less range than AM (medium-wave) or shortwave stations. But people in West Africa show more interest in FM, Sangho said. While driving away from Yamoussoukro recently, he was able to hear a strong signal from the Radio Evangile station for 70 kilometers (about 43 miles).

Although the new station has been on the air only since July 22, Radio Evangile already was a familiar voice in Côte d’Ivoire. Its programs are aired on other Christian stations, including those owned by SIM (Serving In Mission), Assemblies of God churches and Methodist churches.

But other stations have their own interests and their own priorities, Sangho said. “This station is an opportunity for us to talk to people directly in their own languages.”

The languages comprise French as well as five local languages. French is largely employed in morning broadcasts, with the other languages sharing time in the afternoon and evening. Biblical programming accounts for half of the broadcasts, with the rest geared toward social and health-related concerns. Radio Evangile already is respected for such programming in Côte d’Ivoire, Sangho said.

A crowd gathers to celebrate the dedication of the new station in YamoussoukroThe population of Côte d’Ivoire is 50% Muslim and 41% Christian, according to the 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom. Sangho, who grew up Muslim near Timbuktu in Mali, said the two faiths co-exist peacefully in Côte d’Ivoire.

The new station was dedicated on July 22, the day its broadcasting began. It was a meaningful day, said Sangho, 60.

“We went all these years to get a frequency, and to see it before I went to be with the Lord or before I get to retire was something very emotional to me,” he said.

Photo top right: Among those taking part in the opening festivities for the FM station in Yamoussoukro are, at left, Florence Mbamba, director of Radio Evangile; third from left, Abdoulaye Sangho, TWR international director for West Africa; and right, David Sangho, director of the new radio station. Photo bottom left: A crowd gathers to celebrate the dedication of the new station in Yamoussoukro.

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