Kano, Nigeria, February 16, 2005 - Leading U.S. and Nigerian officials launched the Voice of America (VOA) Kano Reporting Center at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today, saying the facility will provide millions of VOA listeners with critical news and information, particularly about health.
"This center is very important to us," said Magaji Abdullahi, Deputy Governor of Kano State. "We now have a studio in Kano for the masses who listen to the (VOA Hausa) Service," he said, adding health education about HIV/AIDS and other diseases is a priority for the region.
Dawn Liberi, USAID's Country Mission Director for Nigeria, said the center underscored the close ties between the United States and Nigeria where there is a strong interest in promoting development in the country's northern region.
"This is part of a 20-year-program to get information, particularly on health programs, to the people of Kano as well as all of northern Nigeria," she said. "The whole purpose of setting up a studio is to enable journalists to report on polio, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, safe water, other childhood immunizations and basic childcare."
Besides serving as a broadcasting hub, the Kano Reporting Center will be used as a training center for journalists and journalism students. Liberi praised this week's workshop that brought more than 20 female broadcasters from across Nigeria to Kano for a hands-on session about health reporting.
Sunday Dare, chief of VOA's Hausa Service, said Kano was chosen as a location for a reporting center because of its "rich political and cultural history," and its importance as a hub for Hausa speakers. "This center will lead to enhanced coverage of health issues." Founded in 1979, VOA's Hausa Service reaches about 18 million listeners, primarily in Nigeria but also in Niger, Ghana and other parts of West Africa.
The center, officially opened today, has been operational since 2004. It is the home of a 30-minute, youth-oriented program -- Karamin Sani Kukumi Ne (Little Knowledge is a Danger) -- that airs on weekends and provides information on health and other subjects.
Others attending the ceremony included: Alhaji Salihi Bayero, younger brother to the Emir of Kano and district head of Nassarawa; Garba Shehu, former media advisor to Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar; The Honorable Yusef Ibrahim Lajawa, Chairman Health Committee, Kano State House of Assembly; Alhaji Shu'aibu Umar Yola, acting Permanent Secretary at the Kano Health Ministry; Rudolf Stewart, information officer, U.S. Embassy and John Lennon, Director, Office of Performance Review, International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB).
The KRC is funded through a $310,000 grant from USAID to VOA, through its parent agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The center, headed by coordinator Sani Umar, is located at A5, Muktar Mohammed Link. The telephone number is 011-234-802-321-4319.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including English.
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