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VOA Swahili Text Messages Available in Kenya Through Safaricom

Program is VOA's first SMS project in East Africa

Washington, D.C., July 22, 2009 - Daily news from Voice of America's (VOA) Swahili Service is available, starting this week, by text message for users of Safaricom's "Get It 411" program in Kenya.

"We're excited about this program, which is VOA's first short message service (SMS) project in East Africa," said VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch. "We're always looking for new ways to reach audiences with our news and information on the platforms of their choice and in the languages they speak."

The Nairobi-based Safaricom already allows subscribers to their Safaricom Live service to download VOA-TV's English language video and audio to their mobile phones. That program has proved to be popular, particularly with programs about President Obama, whose father was Kenyan.

The new SMS program, "Get It 411," is a subscription service that provides breaking news alerts on a regular basis.

VOA's Swahili Service ( broadcasts to Kenya and other countries in East Africa for 1.5 hours each weekday and one hour on weekends. Swahili, a common language in the region, is spoken by an estimated 90 million people.

Safaricom networks reach areas throughout Kenya, an East African country of nearly 38 million where mobile technology often has leap-frogged conventional landline telephones. Safaricom has over 14 million subscribers in Kenya.

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 approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail