Case study

The role and impact of radio in reforming the rural business environment in Africa

Making markets work for the poor case study series

Gavin Anderson David Elliott


for market systems approaches

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Published by
Springfield Centre
Project implementer
Results level
Growth and access to services
Case study
Data source
Intervention type
Improved access to information

A focus on the role played by radio in reshaping the business environment in Uganda. The report is part of series that aims to add to the understanding of the processes that bring about and sustain business environment reform.

Main findings

  • The liberalised media sector allows for competition between radio broadcasters who in turn, look for innovative ways to engage bigger numbers of listeners. As the rural population constitutes 87.5 per cent of Uganda's overall population, and radio is the main means of obtaining information and news about the agricultural sector proves popular.
  • A radio show focused on local business issues was credited by one market trader in Western Uganda with increasing his clients by 100 per cent.
  • The radio shows that carried the biggest impact for businesses were supported by donor intervention (i.e. FIT Uganda and the ILO SEMA project). They were also indigenously owned, managed and run.

Intervention description

Donor intervention in local radio broadcasting. Support was given to ensure that radio broadcasters were reaching a wider audience of rural people. Broadcasters were encouraged to broadcast on issues relating to local industry and agriculture.

Evidence methodology

  • Based on research conducted in 2007 in Uganda and comprised of 6 case studies.
  • An initial scoping exercise was carried out by Ugandan researchers who spoke directly to radio broadcasters, lobbyists, policy makers, and audience representatives. From this, 8 case studies were identified for further analysis.
  • Researchers interviewed policy makers, beneficiaries and reformers.
  • Subsequent analysis as to the role played by radio in business reform was then carried out. In each case study, a range of opinions were sought.
  • 2 case studies were dropped because it could not be proved that radio had played a role in business reform.
  • Focused solely on successful examples for the sake of identifying the characteristics of success.

Useful for:

The report makes specific recommendations for donors looking to support local media. It also explains the how mass communication in promoting an efficient and profitable business environment (under certain conditions). For that reason it may also be interesting to partner organizations, NGOs, researchers and policy makers.