By Collins Atta Poku
Hold on a moment, Ghanaians in Holland and the world over now have the chance to listen to radio programs of their choice without resorting to Tune in, Multi XL and other internet based applications again?
The Netherlands as a country is filled with many migrant Ghanaians estimated to be around five hundred thousand. The migrant Ghanaian community is made up of first generation and second generation migrants who flooded into Europe as part of the globalization process. About half of the estimated number is resident in the Amsterdam area of the Netherlands and one third of this half in the Bijlmer Area. Ghanaians in Amsterdam are perceived to be hard-working, enterprising migrants, partly with a legalized status, partly illegally living and working in the Amsterdam metropolis. Many of them are active as domestic workers, but Ghanaian workers can be found in many parts of the urban Dutch economy. Ghanaians in Amsterdam suddenly became a well-known migrant group when an Israeli airplane hit one of the apartment blocks in Amsterdam-Bijlmermeer in September 1992, and among the dead and wounded remarkably many were of Ghanaian descent. Ghanaians in Amsterdam also gained some recognition through their religious activities, as many belong to Pentecostal churches or took the initiative to start new ones. Another unique feature of these Ghanaians is their news consumption habits.
Even though they are 3,249 miles away from home they still keep in touch with their families and catch up with the latest news and events happening in their country Ghana. The era of proliferated internet services and mobile phone services have made it easier for them to keep up to date with events at home. Through the local Ghanaian radio station in Bijlmer, RECOGIN, tuning in to online streaming of the various radio and television stations and depending on the not too regular KLM dispatch of the nations headline broadsheet, Daily Graphic at the Kandelaar in Ganzenhoef, they get to know what is the news on regular basis. Ghana is radio nation, a nation dominated by radio as a medium and it is not surprising that most Ghanaians in Amsterdam still rely on radio for their news. Next time you are on any of Amsterdam’s metros look out for the features of a Ghanaian with his headset religiously stuck in his or her ears. Are they listening to music all the time? Not exactly. They are listening to Ghanaian radio station in Ghana to catch up with what is the news for the day amongst others.
The obvious point of call for the facilitation of this process is the Tune in app, Multi XL app or online streaming hosted by the websites of these radio stations. But interestingly because of internet connectivity challenges back home most of these Ghanaians in Amsterdam resort to an innovative collaboration between radio stations in Ghana, Media Edge Solutions and MTN Group Limited, operators of mobile cellular service brand MTN to provide them with a direct link to these news bulletins and other news and talk programs of their choice without using the internet based applications. They are given reserved telephone numbers to call and listen to these programs directly akin to making a voice call. The call automatically transforms into the selected radio station and program which allows you to listen in. This facility is available for Ghanaians all over the world too and not restricted to those in Holland and for that matter Amsterdam alone. They are charged 1euro equivalent to 4cedis of the local currency for every call placed regardless of the amount of time spent per call. Many of these Ghanaians affirm it is a very useful platform that really helps them to monitor political, sports and socio cultural events in their country. There is a popular saying in Ghana that you can take the Ghanaian away from Ghana but you can never take the Ghanaian in him or her, and it is well manifested in how these Ghanaians engage each other in debates and discussions even on these metros whilst listening to these radio stations and picking up the various issues that have made the news for the day. Bypassing the internet, these radio stations through MTN Group and Media Edge Solutions have provided these mostly homesick migrant Ghanaians with an opportunity to listen in on what is happening in their contribute and even go ahead to contribute to these discussions and news bulletins by calling in on Skype or send messages through Facebook and Whatsapp. With this innovative media technology the frustrating scenario of poor internet links not making it possible for them to use tune in and other internet based applications to monitor the news is eliminated. The news from Ghana is now clear, direct and only a phone call away from Ghanaians in Holland in particular and the world in general.