BBC goes vernacular to reach locals in West and Central Africa

British Broadcasting Corporation BBC, on Tuesday launched Igbo and Yoruba services, as part of its three-language expansion for the West and Central Africa region.

Confirming this in a statement signed by Marina Forsythe, Sub-Saharan African Business Development Associate for BBC World Service, the company stated “there will be original content through our network of reporters on variety of stories and issues that matter to local people and resonate across the region.”

The newly launched services seeks to promote the Igbo and Yoruba languages among people, as it targets Benin and Togo audiences, as well as descents of the languages in Eastern, South-Eastern, South-Western regions in Nigeria and those in diaspora. These services will be fully digital because most people consume more news through mobile devices and include exciting short format audio, video, graphics and illustrations.

BBC also noted that teams of both services will each produce, twice daily, an episode of BBC Minute to keep people in touch with the world in 60 seconds. “The editorial agenda will reflect not only balanced impartial news, but also a rich mix of trending topics, sports, entertainment, business, health, education and women.”

In 2012, The United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) predicted that “half of the 7000 plus languages spoken today will disappear by the end of the twenty-first century,” and it estimated that one language dies out every 14 days, with the Igbo language amongst the many tribal languages predicted to become extinct by 2025, if nothing is done to check their fast declining use.

In August 2017, the BBC launched the Pidgin English Service and so far, the BBC has recorded success as the Pidgin English service has garnered a lot of active audience especially on social media and on the platforms website. Meanwhile the BBC has a Hausa service which has been on-going for close to 61 years. Transitioning from a solely radio broadcast service to an online platform with a YouTube channel to its name.

The new services are part of the largest investment in the BBC World Service since the 1940s and is being funded by the UK government.