Backed by the US State Department to close to $ 6million, Arewa24 has not yet began broadcasts but was started last year by Equal Access International, a San Francisco-based government contractor with similar programs backed by the State Department in Yemen and Pakistan. Arewa24 will produce locally and broadcast original content for both youth and children such as comedies and aim to be teach against Boko Haram recruitment among the youth.
The only challenge however, is that few families in the region have access to electricity and TV sets and neither are other public services such as infrustructre, education and security provided. The team behind it is looking at reaching the masses via their mobile phones althoough cellphone towers are also targeted by the terrorsit group.
The terrorirst group is also said to be recruiting from neighbouring countries which do not speak Hausa, the language Arewa24 is using. Boko Haram also uses YouTube to announce its activities, sermons and reach out to its sympathisesrs. Arewa24’s effectivenes is therefore highly in question. Boko Haram in April abducted nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls.
Arewa24 TV won’t be the first United States media in northern Nigeria as the Voice of America has been long offering programs in Hausa for some time but Arewa24 is more than just news; it is expected to give training to women, youth to produce videos to counter terrosism and religious extremism.