BBC rolls out Pidgin digital service for West Africa
By Sewe Ishola,
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has rolled out its Pidgin Digital service in West Africa as part of its biggest expansion since the 1940s.
The new language service is for the Pidgin English audience in West and Central Africa. Pidgin is one of the most widely-spoken languages across the region, even though it is not officially recognised.
The WS also plans to offer more mobile and video content and a greater social media presence.
It is hard to know the exact number of Pidgin speakers, as it is not formally studied in schools and is spoken with varying degrees of proficiency.
But in Nigeria it is estimated that some three to five million people use it as their first language in day-to-day interactions.
It is said to be a second language to a much higher number of up to 75 million people in Nigeria alone – about half the population.
And it is also widely spoken in other countries in the region.
The World Service Director, Francesca Unsworth said, “For more than eighty years the BBC World Service has brought trusted news to millions across the globe. I’m delighted that millions of people in Nigeria and beyond, will be able to access the BBC in such a popular language as Pidgin.”
The production hub is based in Lagos, the commercial capital, but reporters in Ghana and Cameroon as well as Nigeria itself will also be on the ground gathering news.
In addition to Pidgin, Nigerians will also soon be able to access services for Yoruba and Igbo , complementing the current Hausa service and English output.