Media is undoubtedly part of the daily life of Africans and even more so in Gabon. Internet, radio and television have all played an important role and have contributed to the development of the music sector in Gabon.
With a growth rate of 193,24%, mobile telecommunications is on a constant progression in Gabon. 76% of the population now have access to internet. Gabon is the first nation in the Cémac zone to offer 4G to a wider public. It is also the first country to initiate a technopole in the sub-region. Gabon implements an avant-garde policy in the field of new information and communication technologies. The music sector is, therefore, the prime beneficiary of this development.
On the publishing level, there is no newspaper dedicated exclusively to Gabonese music. There are, however, "pure players" or qualitative online media such as Africagroove, Gabon Célébrité and the more recent Atanga Store.
The Gabonese Webmaster, Patrice Emery Kombila is at the heart of three innovative urban music platforms: Africagroove, Justraprnb and Waze Music. While Africagroove is an online magazine in French and English, dedicated to the African urban music through news, interviews, videos, Justraprnb is an online musical magazine exclusively devoted to African Hip-Hop & RnB while Waze music is the only online urban music magazine in Gabon (in replacement of the initial site Lbvgroove).
Therence Nzengué is not a webmaster but has done studies in international trade. He fell in love with blogging and social networks, and created the site Gabon celebrities in 2013.
Gabon Célébrité is a platform for artistic and cultural promotion as well as entertainment in Gabon. It is a very eclectic portal where several topics are discussed ranging from sport to fashion, music, sculpture, cinema and celebrity gossip…
Lastly, one of the most influential sites is Atanga Store, a platform for the promotion and distribution of Gabonese music created in 2012 but properly launched in May 2014. The leitmotiv of this project is to promote Gabonese music and propose new solutions for international exposure for Gabonese music.
Rightly regarded as the No. 1 radio station among young Gabonese, Urban FM is a private radio created on 07 December 2010 by Ndoutoumou Medzo Edmond Didier, known as Dafreshman. It is part of the services offered by the communication, events, and artistic promotion agency Tromatix.
This radio station is at the heart of all major cultural and artistic events in Gabon, and is, undoubtedly, an important lever in the promotion of urban music through its programs and events. It facilitates exchange between international and Gabonese artists such as concerts with American artists Lloyd Banks and Rick Ross, and an anniversary concert with the French artist Zaho. It does this through sponsoring or partnerships like the Live urban concerts at the French Institute in Libreville showcasing local artists such as Queen Koumb or rappers like Massassi, Koba and NG Bling.
Set up in Bangui in Central African Republic, Hit Radio, a Moroccan radio station dedicated to young people, released its first broadcasts in Libreville, on the occasion of the visit of the King Mohammed VI in Gabon in April 2013.
With African youths as its target, Hit Radio spokesperson declared that "it is quite an achievement that hit radio can now deploy outside borders. The idea is to offer a positive programming, promoting more widely Moroccan artists as well as local talent."
The installation of antennas and negotiation with local operators for suitable locations however represents a technical challenge.
The second challenge, is that the programs need to adapt to the trends and musical taste of the country to reach an international dimension. Hence, 98.5 FM Libreville offers a continuous varied and eclectic programming.
The access to Internet has facilitated the creation of Web Radio. The most influential of these radios remains Eben radio. Created in 2013, by the Franco-Gabonese businessman Eric Aymard Benquet, who is the CEO of Eben Entertainment. Eben Radio is based in Miami, Florida, with a relay in Johannesburg. The radio streams a wide selection of African, American, Latin, house, Hip-Hop and even contemporary gospel music.
Eben Entertainment has, since 2001, been involved in the organization of shows, production, artistic and technical training. After conquering Gabon and Africa, Eben Entertainment aims to conquer the rest of the world with Eben radio.
Today, to be broadcasted on one of these three radio stations is a milestone for artists. Indeed, they are known for their selective high-quality projects.
These radios, however, would not have been able to have as much impact among young people if they did not broadcast local urban music and if they had not been led by pioneering urban radio stations such as Radio emergence (school radio run by students under the supervision of the Ministry of National Education), Top FM (2001), Black FM and Radio Télévision Nazareth (2003). They have given way to Gabonese urban music, hip-hop in particular.
The pan-African radio Africa N°1 is the most important francophone radio. Its programs are broadcasted throughout the world thanks to its short wave transmitters. The radio also has FM relay (frequency modulation) in major capitals in francophone Africa, in Paris (107.5 FM), and in North America. The station claims an audience of 30 million people worldwide. In 1996, it reached 20 million.
"Kilimanjdaro", a radio program broadcasted on this station, easily comes to the mind. For a long time, it was the only platform for Gabonese artists, and also Africans residing in or passing by Libreville. The radio, however, faces financial difficulties, exemplified in the obsolescence of the equipment and the building that hosts the radio. The Parisian programs are, however, available on its website
The pioneer generalist Gabon Television, part of the Radiodiffusion-Télévision Gabonaise, RTG channel. It was launched in May 1963, and was steered by the President Léon Mba, with the aim to equip the country with modern means of communication. Its mission is to "inform, educate and entertain". The first broadcast began on the evening of 9 May at 21: 30 pm with a series of speeches from technical and political officials.
The year 1977 marked a change in the television viewing habits of the Gabonese with the creation of a second channel, RTG 2, whose reception was at first limited to the capital Libreville and its periphery.
The first channel then became RTG 1. In 2012, RTG 1 was renamed Gabon Télévision. Broadcasted by Hertzian waves on the Gabonese territory, by satellite in West Africa and also available via ADSL in France, it allows artists to distribute their music in all the countries. There is however a lack of rigour in the choice of media to disseminate and, as with all African national television channels, bribes are not uncommon.
Because the impact of Gabon Télévision is national, urban music artists wishing to reach a broader audience turn to the famous music channel Trace. Trace Urban for hip-hop and RnB and Trace Africa or BBlack for pop music. Gospel artists turn to Gospel TV, LMTV or Bénie TV.
TéléAfrica, TV+, TV Hermon, and RTN, all private television channels, have, since their launch, promoted Gabonese music. However, for various reasons (political, budgetary, editorial…) this revaluation isn’t executed as expected, thus affecting the promotion of the creative work of artists.
Just Rap RnB http://www.justraprnb.com/
Eben Radio www.ebenradio.com