World Agenda

Last updated: 9 september, 2009 - 11:53 GMT

Mobile phones link villages in Nigeria

Mobile phones have changed the lives of millions of Africans

Mobile phones have changed the lives of millions of Africans

The challenge of broadcasting in Northern Nigeria is getting tougher as the traditionally popular radio listening gives way to GSM mobile phones and the internet.

We decided to meet this challenge by giving hard-to-reach audiences mobile phones so they can send in reports about themselves.

There are 85 million mobile telephone subscribers in Nigeria today, in a population of over 140 million, while use of the internet - particularly in urban areas - is on the increase.

click BBC Hausa is now a multimedia broadcaster, using radio, online and mobile. To help us deliver the best for our audience, we looked at how they were changing the way they live their lives and their increasingly sophisticated approach to media.

A road show we undertook touring 22 areas earlier this year helped and by the end of it we knew we needed a strategy which actively collaborated with our audience and helped them to network.

The result is Labarinku A Tafinku (Your News in Your Palms) which we have rolled out across six northern Nigeria villages including Daba, Fadibara and Sayori.

And we have literally put BBC Hausa in their hands by giving the villagers mobile phones.

User-generated content

The villagers use the mobiles to send stories direct to us. Their pictures, via mobile, are used on click and on click BBC Hausa’s Facebook page.

And we are already seeing results. Our editorial content from Nigeria has significantly increased and we are seeing closer relationships being forged by the communities themselves - with BBC Hausa being the moderator for much of the conversation.

It’s a radical departure from how BBC Hausa has served its audience over many generations, but by tapping into how our audience wants to communicate we are making sure BBC Hausa remains a relevant and essential part of Nigerian life.

My hope now is that we can partner with more villages and that by working with technology we can deliver more innovations in the future.

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