BBC chooses 2 solutions for piloting after Nairobi hackathon

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Two teams of Kenyans will have their solutions for helping the BBC World Service connect with digital audiences piloted after being picked out by judges following a Nairobi hackathon.

Disrupt Africa reported earlier this month on the hackathon, which was based around social platforms, specifically the use of chat apps, to reach young audiences.

Go-Sheng, which uses local language translation technology, and instant messaging solution Ongair were picked by the judges from the 13 teams that took part, based on a combination of factors such as distinctiveness, audience impact, accessibility innovation and feasibility.

“The judges felt that two of the ideas were strong enough to be taken forward for a pilot build with user testing. These ideas best served the challenge of trying to reach young African audiences through social and digital platforms,” the BBC said.

Dmitry Shiskin, BBC World Service group digital development editor, told Disrupt Africa the organisation believed there is a growing demand for the BBC’s journalistic values of trust, lack of bias and impartiality.

“There’s growing fragmentation of news sources, increased political pressure in some parts of the world, ambitious plans by some state-backed broadcasters,” he said.

“The BBC appreciates all that but more importantly we recognise the changing nature of news consumption, audience needs are becoming different. We need to be on the front foot of those changes to stay relevant and reach audiences on platforms that, perhaps, never even existed a few years ago. In areas where our radio audiences have decreased we need to recognise where audiences are consuming content on digital and TV  platforms.”

Shiskin said Nairobi had been chosen as the destination of the hackathon after he and his team visited the city as well as Accra, Lagos, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

“Given the nature of the challenge facing us, specifically in mobile and social areas, we decided to start with Kenya. Nairobi also has recently become the most important BBC bureau in Africa, so it made sense to keep it closer to our major journalistic centre. We do plan to visit other African countries in the future,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent’s most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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