BBC Africa

Entry type: Portfolio

Country/area: Kenya

Publishing organisation: British Broadcasting Corporation

Organisation size: Big

Cover letter:

BBC Africa Visual Journalism which is part of the BBC World Service was set up in November 2017 with the remit to tell stories through high visual content and explore new innovative use of technologies with an emphasis on social, mobile and youth audiences. One of the ambitions of the team is taking complex topics, enhancing and explaining them in a simplified format that engages audiences and attracts new and underrepresented audiences to BBC platforms (web and social media).

Our uniqueness is our dedication and commitment to expanding our visual storytelling of the African continent to a global audience.

With staff employed in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi Kenya, the team is made up of senior journalists, Interactive and data journalists, software engineers and web developers, UX designers and social media visual artists.

Description of portfolio:

Data journalism played a crucial role in the success of the BBC’s Africa coverage of the 2022 Kenya election. It contributed to several BBC Africa language services, including the Swahili, Pidgin, and Africa news online (English) sites, being the leading destination for election coverage and data-led journalism.

The transmission of live Kenyan presidential results contributed to audience growth across the BBC Africa language services and English.

For example, the Live results page for News online delivered 1.9 million users overall with1.5 million coming from Africa, and 1.2 from Kenya alone, primarily driven by search and social (70% WhatsApp and higher numbers from Twitter than Facebook).

The live coverage of results was the most challenging, as the presidential tally was being done by counting results from over 50,000 polling stations while the transmission of the results from the polling stations to the electoral commission data portal was painstakingly slow. Due to the challenges, other media houses in Kenya dropped their live coverage while BBC Africa stayed the course. Audiences turned to BBC Africa online for the latest results, seeing them as credible. We also transmitted gubernatorial and parliamentary results.

Another key offering was a variety of charts that explained Kenya. They were published by BBC Africa Online and Africa Language Services a day before polling day. It got nearly 200,000 visitors and registered a good level of audience engagement. Some of the issues the charts explore include food inflation, public debt, Kenya’s young population, education, the economy, and the country’s access to the internet and power. The charts were shared across various WhatsApp groups in Kenya, sparking various debates.

We also published two animated digital explainers on the cost of elections and what it takes to win an election in Kenya. The explainers explored the cost of elections and how much money candidates spend on elections for various positions in select western, Asian, and African countries. The pieces revealed that Kenya’s election is possibly the most expensive per capita globally, and the use of dark money is prevalent.One of the videos caught the attention of an NGO in Kenya that advocates for a corruption-free society through good governance and social justice, who considered using the video in one of their workshops in a session that highlighted media insights and findings on campaign funding.

The two videos were shared on various platforms, including BBC Africa Online, several language services websites, and all the social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. The cost of elections in Kenya explainer garnered over 140,000 views on Facebook and over 2,700 reactions. The video on how to win an election in Kenya got over 54,000 views and over 1,300 reactions on the same platform, which is above the average engagement of BBC Africa sites.

The team also produced a touchscreen presentation that looked at how women have performed in Kenyan elections since independence and at how the country is fairing compared to its neighboring countries.

Altogether, the team learned the value of patience and how teamwork can lead to great results in this project. It motivated us to embark on bigger data journalism projects.

Project links: