Deutsche Welle (DW) is going to close Kigali relay station in Kigali, Rwanda, the last shortwave station in its ownership, on March 29, according to Tabea Rößner, media spokesperson for the Green members of Germany’s federal lower house, the Bundestag. Rößner published the information on February 4, and voices regret:
In our motion of December 2014 we, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen demanded to keep the station operating and to secure transmissions of Deutsche Welle radio programs on shortwave. We want the station to be maintained because we believe that interference-resistant supply of information such as shoretwave need to be kept. This is the more important as geopolitical and foreign-policy constellations can change anytime. Independent coverage needs to be independent from infrastructural issues.
In unserem Antrag vom Dezember 2014 haben wir von BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN gefordert, die Station aufrecht zu erhalten und die Übertragung von Radioprogrammen der Deutschen Welle via Kurzwelle zu sichern. Die Station wollen wir aufrecht erhalten, weil wir der Meinung sind, dass störunanfällige Informationsangebote wie die Kurzwelle unbedingt aufrechterhalten werden müssen. Dies ist umso wichtiger, da geo- und außenpolitische Konstellationen sich jederzeit ändern können. Unabhängige Berichterstattung aber muss von Infrastrukturfragen unabhängig sein.
Indeed, on December 18 last year, when the Bundestag debated, among others, Deutsche Welle’s task plan and budget, had argued that rather than entering a mindless competition with English-language foreign broadcasters, DW, the Greens argued, should strengthen its core competences, maintain shortwave in general, and the Kigali relay station in particular.
Adventist World Radio (AWR), a station that broadcasts via stations of its own (Guam among them) and via rented airtime (Nauen in Germany and Trincomalee in Sri Lanka among them), appears to have rented a lot of airtime from Kigali since October last year, according to a report by Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s (RBB) media magazine on February 8, who quote Jose Jacob, an Indian ham radio operator, as an unverified source.
A week earlier, the magazine had reported that Kigali relay station would be dismantled.
It won’t be DW’s first withdrawal from the land of a thousand hills. In April 1994, seven German DW staff and four relatives were evacuated from the transmitter site by Belgian paratroopers, while Rwanda was descending into genocide. Most of the Rwandan staff, some eighty out of 120 Rwandan nationals, are believed to have been killed in the 1994 massacres, according to DW.