The BBC has hailed a ‘significant investment in the future of African journalism’ with the opening of a new bureau in Nairobi.
Francesca Unsworth, Director of BBC News, says: “Today marks another significant investment by the BBC in the future of African journalism and I’m delighted to be in Nairobi to open our largest news bureau in the world outside the UK.
“Earlier this year we opened another major hub in Lagos, we launched six new language services across the continent and expanded our francophone services. Our commitment to Africa is clear and our most important investment will be in training the next generation of African reporters and producers to world-class standards.”
Close to 300 of the 600 BBC journalists working across Africa are based in the new state-of-the-art facility. Recently-launched language services in Afaan Oromo, Amharic and Tigrinya operate in the new East Africa headquarters, alongside well-established BBC services in Somali, Swahili and English.
Rachael Akidi Okwir, Head of East Africa Languages for the BBC World Service, says: “The BBC World Service has earned a reputation across the world for impartial and independent journalism over many years. We are celebrating the African journalists and programme makers here today who will carry the torch of BBC professionalism, accuracy and impartiality into the future.”
The Nairobi bureau is already establishing itself as major media production house in East Africa. Today, Money Daily launches and other new programme commissions feature:
• Investigations – with Africa Eye
• Sports – pan-African sports and news feature shows Sport Africa and Michezo Afrika
• Business – Smart Money, Money Daily, Mitikazi Leo and Biashara Bomba
• Health and lifestyle: Life Clinic – BBC Maisha (BBC Maisha launches soon)
• Children’s News – What’s New?
• Women’s discussion – #TheSheWord
• ‘Fake News’ – Factfinder demystifies the news and separates fact from fiction (launches on 12 November)
• News bulletin – Somali daily TV news programme Wararka
Africa Eye has already made a huge impact. An investigation into corruption in football uncovered a referee bound for the 2018 World Cup – and made headlines around the world. An in-depth report into a ‘rehabilitation centre’ in Somalia revealed the serious abuse of children.
More recently, Africa Eye’s open source video investigation in Cameroon received widespread international plaudits for innovative journalism. What’s New? is already attracting young fans with more than 10 million views on Facebook.
The production facilities at the bureau include a TV studio and two further live broadcast positions, two radio studios, two radio workspaces and five edit suites. The BBC World Service now delivers a total of 12 African languages, plus English. The new investment is part of the largest expansion of the BBC World Service since the 1940s, funded by the UK government.
Since the start of the BBC broadcasts to East Africa in Kiswahili and Somali in 1957, audiences in the region have relied on the BBC to bring impartial news and information – and to take news about the region to the rest of the world. With the opening of its Nairobi bureau in 1998, BBC World Service became the first international broadcaster to establish a news production bureau in Kenya.