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BBC hackathon aims to crack Africa's digital markets

The Kenyan capital is home to a tech-savvy elite, but ideas formed at this week's hackathon could benefit the entire country.

The World Service, the international arm of the BBC, transmits news and information globally, currently reaching about 200 million people per week through a mix of broadcast, radio, and online content. That's not good enough though -- there are still areas where communications technology hasn't deeply penetrated, and communities that could benefit from greater access to information.

To address the shortfall, the World Service and the BBC's digital innovations team Connected Studio are holding a hackathon in Nairobi. The two-day event kicks off tomorrow, and will look to spearhead new ways to connect with digital audiences across Kenya. The most innovative and promising ideas created during the event will receive funding for a pilot scheme from the BBC.

The east African country is currently in a technological dichotomy -- it has both an affluent urban minority keyed into mobiles and other communications tools, alongside desperately poor citizens outside the cities with comparatively little access to advanced resources. Kenya also has the fastest growing economy in the region though, with telecommunications key to its growth. It's that spark that the hackathon is looking to tap into, with an emphasis on the creation of new methods to "reinforce the international broadcaster's appeal to mobile phone users who do not currently access BBC content relevant to them via the use of social media and chat apps".

Source: Wired 2 February 2015