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Iginio Gagliardone

Iginio Gagliardone is a research fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford and a member of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy. Previously he worked for UNESCO and the Italian Ministry of Innovation. He is currently leading several projects looking at...
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Sam Geall

Sam Geall is a research fellow on low-carbon innovation in China at Science and Technology Policy Research (SPRU) at the University of Sussex, and executive editor of chinadialogue . He was international coordinator of Promoting Social Media and Public Participation in China’s Gre...
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China in Africa’s media and telecommunications: cooperation, connectivity and control

Iginio Gagliardone , Sam Geall , 24 April 2014

China is changing Africa’s media sphere. The country supports African broadcasters with loans, training, and exchange programmes and has set up its own media operations on the continent, creating an African arm of the state-run broadcaster CCTV and expanding existing initiatives, such as the state news agency Xinhua. In the telecommunications market China is helping national governments, both democratic and authoritarian, to expand access to the Internet and mobile telephony, and it offers export credits to Chinese companies willing to invest in African markets.

For China, media expansion in Africa is a part of its “Going Out” and “soft power” strategies to extend the country’s influence in new sectors and locations. Yet for some this process represents a move in an “information war” in terms of which Chinese-built telecommunications infrastructure is a cybersecurity concern and the tendency of Chinese media to promote “positive reporting” is a threat to independent watchdog journalism. Such rapid and contested changes in Africa’s media and telecommunications sphere are an overlooked and illustrative example of the impacts and influences of a rising China that warrant particular attention from policymakers and civil society in Africa who wish to ensure both increased cooperation and connectivity and free and secure communications among citizens.

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