BBC World News is taking to Mxit in the tun up to and during South Africa’s upcoming general elections. It has launched a Mxit channel dedicated to the elections taking place on 7 May, 20 years after South Africa became a constitutional democracy, so as to hear what a generation of young people born into a country free of racial segregation, who will be voting for the first time, have to say and what they’re sharing via the social media platform.
“Instant messaging apps have had phenomenal user growth in the past year. We know that hundreds of millions of people are using these platforms to stay connected, but increasingly also to share news stories, pictures and videos. In South Africa we know that many younger voters in particular are using apps like Mxit to talk about what matters most to them in this election,” says Trushar Barot, assistant editor for the social media hub at BBC News
“It made sense for us to engage with them on a platform they are already familiar with and share our best content in a way that makes sense for them. We’ll be very interested in seeing what they share with us too and we’ll try and get the best of that content used more widely across BBC News in radio, online and TV,” Barot says.
The BBC’s Mxit channel will allow voters to have their say by submitting comments instantly. It will also distribute the best of the BBC’s coverage of the election via text updates, headlines, images, programme information and links to online coverage, all optimised for mobile.
The global broadcaster is also launching its election coverage with a special debate, South Africa decides: Is democracy delivering? The programme will be presented by Lerato Mbele and Audrey Brown and will be broadcast on BBC World News TV on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th May and BBC World Service radio from Friday 2nd May.
On television, BBC World News (DStv 400, Starsat 400) will be drawing on the expertise of top presenter Zeinab Badawi and its Johannesburg-based bureau team, Milton Nkosi and Nomsa Maseko. Context and analysis will be provided by the BBC’s African Business unit, launched last year to bring impartial, objective business coverage to audiences across Africa.
Flagship weekly business programme Africa Business Report, presented by Mbele, will look at the economic issues at stake this election time and hear from a cross section of society about why the election matters to them. The programme will also be at the World Economic Forum in Nigeria for reaction from Africa’s big financial institutions on the election results.
The elections will also be covered extensively on Focus on Africa, the BBC’s daily news programme in English for African audiences. All this will be supported by live online coverage at www.BBC.com/southafricavotes
BBC World News has made significant re-investment in programming and stepped up its coverage of African business with the opening of the new pan-Africa Business Unit in Johannesburg. The BBC is the leader in global breaking news and with journalists in more countries than any other broadcaster, has the widest breadth of stories from across the world.
Follow BBC News South Africa on Mxit by searching for the ID ‘BBCNewsSA’ and clicking ‘Invite’.