bank of solar panels outside over dirt ground

Eye Radio Sustains Airtime with Solar Power

March 19, 2019
Solar power enables radio stations in South Sudan to broadcast reliably and consistently throughout the day
One man stands in a doorway behind a ribbon; two men stand outside, one holding scissors
USAID Representative, Richard Hoffman, and Eye Media Business Manager, Ariic Reng, cut the ribbon on the new solar power system provided by USAID. Photo/Internews

Eye Media began the year on high note as they celebrated a milestone with the installation of a new solar power system. The hybrid system was commissioned in February during the 2nd annual Eye Media Open Day event, which brought supporters, partners and clients to the station to officially launch two new broadcast studios, the new solar power system and a redesigned website.

Eye Radio is a pioneer media outlet in South Sudan. Starting as a shortwave service in Nairobi in 2003, Eye Radio is now the top radio station in Juba, broadcasting independent information in the capital and throughout the country through an extensive repeater network. Given the high listenership of Eye Radio, being on-air 24/7 is crucial. Listeners rely on the station for information at all hours of the day, especially in times of crisis when accurate, independent information can save lives. Thus, Eye Radio needed to find a solution. Monthly fuel and maintenance costs for the generators that keep the station on air were exceeding $7,000 and becoming unsustainable. Eye Radio watched as other local radio stations went off air for days when they ran into technical problems, fuel shortages or the other challenges that come along with an inconsistent power supply. Without a city-power grid in Juba, solar power was really the only option to keep the station on-air 24/7 and avoid cutting down broadcast hours.

“We were about to cut down on our broadcast hours from 24 to 18 hours per day.” Thanks to the solar power system, now we will remain on air 24 hours.” -Koang Pal Chang, Eye Radio Station Manager

A man stands in a room of equipment
The Radio Community Electrical Engineer Issa Kassimu works inside the Eye Media PV container, which houses the batteries and equipment to run the system from energy harnessed through the panels. Photo/Eye Radio

With the installation of the new system, the station is now running on the system for most of the day, with the generators supporting the system intermittently. The system has provided another added benefit – it’s also reduced noise pollution at the station as the system runs silently during the sunny days in Juba. The use of solar power is more than just a cost savings — it enables the station to broadcast reliably and consistently throughout the day. Solar power is a solution for Eye Radio to continue its mission – to provide engaging, accurate, and actionable content to get the right information at the right time to citizens across South Sudan. This is a momentous step for Eye Media, the nationally registered NGO that manages Eye Radio, in terms of sustainability.

Eye Media is a 100% South Sudanese media development organization, which runs Eye Radio 98.6 FM, the most popular radio station in the capital Juba.  Eye Media receives support from the USAID-funded i-STREAM project, implemented by Internews.