BBC launches Nigerian-developed mobile news chatbot 

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The BBC has begun piloting two mobile new news services developed and designed by Nigerian tech companies to provide innovative ways to bring news to readers.

“BBC Newschatta” a mobile news chatbot service developed by Nigerian technology company, “Codulab” generates news stories based on a users’ input, using keywords and topics to send relevant news stories to them via the WeChat Messenger app, which must be already installed on their phone.

BBC Newchatts is currently being piloted and was developed after the media company held open submission process through its Connected Studio and the BBC World Service at an event in Lagos in February 2016. BBC also held a similar event here in South Africa in 2015, which also produced a service which was officially launched.

The second pilot idea from the Lagos brief “Timerail”, curates big news stories using multiple sources, which can then be presented to users with a compelling mix of content navigable by time and relevance. This service was designed by Isoventurian and user research has led to more targeted clustering of tagged content. A working prototype is expected later this year.

“BBC World Service continues to harnesses local tech expertise in Africa that allows us to keep innovating with new formats, platforms and content distribution models, specifically targeted at young audiences through mobile,” said Dmitry Shishkin, BBC Digital Editor, World Service Languages/

“Before coming to Nigeria we successfully collaborated with tech hubs and start-ups in Kenya and South Africa, bringing live products from both locations, and I am thrilled that the trend continues in Lagos. Given the massive editorial investments that the BBC is making in Africa, it’s important that digital innovation is a crucial part in that process,” he added.

According to the BBC, these collaborations form part of the BBC’s objective of increasing its global audience to 500 million by 2020.