BBC, the British public service broadcaster has at last announced the latest in digital advancement – the news chatbot developed by Nigerian developers during its Digital Innovation Programme in Lagos Nigeria.
In 2016, BBC held a workshop in Lagos to stimulate thoughts and ideas for digital tools and products that could better dissiminate BBC News to audiences in Africa.
The panel of judges had a shortlist of four teams who in turn submitted a detailed plan and had undergone a series of question and answer sessions with BBC experts. The teams Codulab and Timerail made the cut.
The two teams turned their ideas into pilots throught the duration of 2016. Details in reference to these pilots were to be announced late 2016 but did not materialize.
BBC has finally launched the pilot submitted by Codulab: BBC Newschatta – a news chatbot. The mobile phone based chatbot generates news stories basing it on the users’ input. It uses keywords and topics sending relevant material to them through the WeChat Messenger application. The chatbot is targeting young Africans aged betweeb 16-34, residing in urban areas. The mobile phone usage for this demographic rates at a very high level.
The pilot from Timerial – the other team selected, has yet to materialize and is still a work in progress with a working prototype expected to be due late 2017.
BBC Newschatta is now accesible worldwide by means of WeChat Messenger. It joins the ranks of other succesful African designed pilots such as BBC Drop and BBC Minute CatchUp as part of BBC’s contiuous effort to create a wave of digital innovation across Africa.