Mauritanian communications minister, Hamdi Ould Mahgoub
Nouakchott - Mohammed Sharif Aabidi
Nouakchott on Sunday saw Mauritanian's first broadcasting station being inaugurated by Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Laghdaf.
The station includes 14 television and 15 radio channels, with the possibility of increasing the number of channels when needed. It is broadcast in the capital, Nouakchott, on a 36 Megahertz frequency.
The Mauritanian communications minister, Hamdi Ould Mahgoub, said: "The establishment of the new base was the outcome of continuous efforts in order to respond to the needs of the country in the field of radio and television broadcasting, in line with the requirements of audiovisual space which has become a reality."
He added: "The new media establishment completes the process of creating a national broadcast company that shall be entrusted with the distribution of these services to users, in addition to restructuring public media which is now technically possible."
He explained: "This stage is considered the beginning of a historic elevation of the media, igniting its emancipation and encouraging its diversity in Mauritania."
He pointed out that the platform would enable Mauritanian private and public channels to be presented in one package, so that Mauritanian, Arab and African audiences can follow up on them at the same frequency in all parts of the Middle East and North Africa and large parts of Europe and Asia. "Efforts by the ministry of communication and parliament to develop the infrastructure of the national television broadcast has earned the sector considerable benefits," he said.
Mahgoub added: "The cost of renting airwaves has doubled, compared with what it was in 2003...there is a free-of-charge broadcasting period of six months, with the possibility of leasing bandwith to foreign TV stations to cover the needs of national broadcasting."
The independence of Mauritania's media received a boost in 2011 by the communications minister Mahgoub. Observers say there is a need for "a national media strategy to discuss local issues", while saying audiovisual media emancipation required substantial financial resources and specialise staff, as well as state-of-the-art technology.
"The major challenges facing the emancipation of audiovisual space in Mauritania is the lack of human resources and funding, as well as moral and political challenges,” said analysts.