Last updated: 26 june, 2010 - 15:08 GMT

Multimedia Africa

Peter Horrocks with football fans in the Nairobi shanty town Kibera.

With mobile phone usage soaring across Africa, BBC World Service has responded by introducing a range of flexible, new multimedia services to cater for audience demand, while the number of stories generated by the various language services for the English newsroom has nearly tripled.

Multimedia journalism with impact

BBC World Service introduced new multimedia services for Africa in a year when its journalism achieved growing impact. More than 76 million people a week accessed BBC services for Africa on radio, online and mobile, despite intense competition in key markets such as Nigeria and Kenya, where audiences fell.

Mobile subscriptions across Africa are forecast to reach nearly 790 million by the end of 2014. It's an exciting opportunity and one BBC World Service has responded to with the launch of an online offer for mobile phones in five key languages.

Mobile phone users can now connect to a wealth of BBC material, from regional and international news to programme information and sports headlines via mobile phone websites in Hausa, Swahili, Somali, Portuguese and Kirundi/Kinyarwanda for the Great Lakes region.

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Your news in your palms

Nigeria is the largest market in Africa for traffic to BBC mobiles sites. More than 60% of all Nigerian traffic comes from mobile phones. Jamilah Tangaza, Head of BBC Hausa, says there are marked increases when the BBC covers a big story. "One such occasion was our exclusive interview with the ailing Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, following a silence of 90 days since his departure to Saudi Arabia for treatment.

"The number of users to the BBC Hausa mobile site increased significantly and the story was picked up by news outlets across the world. The interview became the focus of constitutional debate and government officials explained that the president spoke to the BBC because of BBC Hausa's impeccable journalistic reputation."

BBC Hausa Head, Jamilah Tangaza, preparing to go on air live from the village of Tudun Bude in northern Nigeria.

BBC Hausa Head, Jamilah Tangaza, preparing to go on air live from the village of Tudun Bude in northern Nigeria.

Jamilah's team has also pioneered a new approach to connecting with hard to reach audiences. Labarinku A Tafinku (Your News in Your Palms) has given mobile phones to six villages in northern Nigeria so they can send in reports and pictures about their communities.

Audience involvement has also grown as BBC programmes offer increasing interactivity through text messaging and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. When US President Barack Obama visited Africa, reaction on the English for Africa interactive programme click Africa Have Your Say featured prominently on click

The pace of technological change was explored in the English for Africa season Connected Africa. A new fibre optic cable is bringing high-speed internet to East Africa, encouraging countries such as Rwanda to develop ambitions for a digital-based economy.

New technologies and increasing collaboration with other parts of the BBC also played a key role in the BBC's coverage of other major African news stories, from Somali piracy and the massacre of protesters in Guinea, to the leadership of South Africa's new President Jacob Zuma. They are also playing an increasing role in the BBC's coverage of football to the continent.

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On the ball

BBC World Service broke the news of the ambush on the Togo football team in Angola. Sports presenter Farayi Mungazi was live on air, announcing the winner of the BBC's African Footballer of the Year competition, when he got the tip-off.

Sports journalist Matthew Kenyon’s exclusive on the spot interview with Togo's best-known player, Emmanuel Adebayor, made headlines worldwide, while sports presenter Richard Connelly used Twitter to keep audiences up to date with the story.

BBC World Service is playing an essential role in ensuring that African audiences can take part in a global conversation.

David Stead, Editor of African English Production

BBC Hausa received more than 100 messages a day during the Africa Cup of Nations, mostly via Facebook. One Nigerian listener in Belgium commented: "BBC, we are really enjoying your Nations Cup coverage. You have demonstrated that you are ready to maintain your leading role both on air and online."

Meanwhile, BBC Swahili – which already attracts millions of listeners to FM partners in Kenya and Tanzania with its weekly coverage of the English Premier League – reported a nearly five-fold increase in page impressions when its online Africa Cup of Nations content was made available for mobile users.

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Marking milestones

Collaborative multimedia reporting was also a feature in the run-up to the G20 summit, exploring the impact on Africa of changes in the global economy.

The debate over Africa's place in the world became a major topic, as South Africa prepared to stage the football World Cup and 17 African countries looked forward to celebrating 50 years of independence.

Elsewhere, International Development Correspondent Mark Doyle spanned the continent for his series click Why is Africa Poor?, while Africa Editor Martin Plaut explored what relief aid meant for victims of Ethiopia's famine in click Assignment.

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Sports journalist Matthew Kenyon recalls the attack on the Togo football team

"As far as I could tell I was the only reporter in Cabinda. The attack on the Togo bus had happened just hours before and, waiting outside the team hotel, I saw the squad walking down the road from the nearby hospital.

"There was no security, no one in authority to stop me – so I approached the team and asked to speak to someone. I was introduced to the assistant coach, who told me to talk to Togo's best-known player, Emmanuel Adebayor. He was only too happy to describe, in horrifying detail, exactly what had happened in the brutal assault which left two of their party dead and a third with serious injuries.

"His words, broadcast on the BBC, made headlines across the world. There followed four days of the most intense reporting of my career as Togo decided their future, and then I went back to covering a football tournament."

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Africa's football station

Sport – especially football – is a major attraction for the BBC’s English-speaking African audiences. Programmes like the flagship weekly sports programme click Fast Track keep listeners up to date with African players at home and abroad. The website is a one-stop shop for the latest stories, features, match reports and analysis.

BBC broadcasters Farayi Mungazi (left), Matthew Kenyon (centre) and Richard Connelly (right) commentating at the Africa Cup of Nations.

BBC broadcasters Farayi Mungazi (left), Matthew Kenyon (centre) and Richard Connelly (right) commentating at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The BBC's reporting of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations final between Egypt and Ghana offered live commentary and post-match analysis. "Through our minute-by-minute online coverage and via Twitter and Facebook, fans around the world were able to follow the action," says David Stead, Editor of African English Production. "BBC World Service is playing an essential role in ensuring that African audiences can take part in a global conversation."

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