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New Amharic Youth Program Debuts on VOA

On Monday, December 7, the Voice of America will launch Gabina VOA, a new Amharic-language infotainment youth radio show for the Horn of Africa region.

During the first broadcast, hosts Henok Fente and Mestawet Aragaw will profile two young entrepreneurs who founded an Ethiopian e-commerce startup; engage the audience in a Facebook town-hall discussion on youth entrepreneurship; and talk to a barber who owns a small business in the town of Mekele. Guests Shimelis Mekonnen and Mesfin Getaneh, founders of an e-commerce company in Washington, D.C., will talk about their own experiences and challenges and offer practical advice on developing an e-commerce business model.

“Young people everywhere, particularly in Africa, are a vital force for change, as they make up 70% of the population in Ethiopia and Eritrea,” said VOA Africa Division Director Negussie Mengesha. “VOA’s broadcasts inform the youth about significant current events, and trends, and engage them in a conversation across all platforms.”

Upcoming programs of Gabina, which means a front seat taxi ride, will cover such topics as political comedy with a cross promotion to Facebook; young Ethiopians and Eritreans among the flow of migrants to Europe; and a technology/innovation segment focused on high-tech, low-cost entrepreneurial opportunities.

“We have already held some focus groups to get feedback about Gabina VOA,” said Tizita Belachew, Managing Editor of VOA’s Horn of Africa Service. “One respondent said, ‘I honestly felt I was riding a taxi…. I was on board as a passenger bonding with the host (driver) and the conductor’.”

Young people throughout the Horn of Africa face political and economic issues that impact their lives, and Gabina VOA will offer a platform for them to address their concerns. Young women in the region, who face numerous gender barriers, ranging from access to education to equal employment opportunity to early marriage and female genital mutilation, will now have a forum to discuss these issues. The show will also report on the State Department promotion of efforts to discourage early and forced marriage in Ethiopia and the resulting physical, psychological, and economic damage.

Gabina VOA will air five days a week at 1630 UTC (11:30 a.m. Washington time).

VOA’s Horn of Africa Service broadcasts credible news and information in Amharic, Tigrigna and Afan Oromo to audiences throughout Ethiopia, Eritrea and the diaspora.