AJI plans 'unparalleled' African coverage

Amid mounting speculation over its launch date, Al Jazeera International has announced the full line-up of bureaux and correspondents across Africa ahead of its global launch later this year.

The new English-language satellite rolling news channel will have bureaux in Cairo (Egypt), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Nairobi (Kenya), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Harare (Zimbabwe).

AJI managing director Nigel Parsons said: "Our reporting from Africa will be unparalleled. We will have more bureaux and resources dedicated to Africa than any other global broadcaster."

AJI will share resources with the Al Jazeera Arabic channel's bureaux in Chad, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, Somalia and Sudan.

According to AJI director of news Steve Clark, more bureaux are planned across the African continent and the locations will be announced shortly.

The launch date of the channel, which has attracted high-profile journalists including Sir David Frost, Rageh Omaar and Shiulie Ghosh, has become one of the most highly anticipated events on the media calendar.

Regarding the delayed launch of AJI, Clark told Press Gazette: "As far as I'm concerned, we launch as soon as we are ready. Editorially we have been ready for some time and it has been delayed because of the extremely complex technical nature of what we are trying to do.

"We have four major news centres dotted around the world, and we'll be broadcasting from all four of these, 24 hours every day. It is proving quite complex technically.

"As soon as our engineers and production people have sorted out any technical problems that they are getting, we'll launch. And the sooner the better."

Last month, AJI became the only global news channel to be allowed to operate a bureau in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The Africa bureau chief is Andrew Simmons, an established British broadcaster who has won two Royal Television Society awards and has worked for the BBC, ITV and Sky News.

Simmons said: "We will set out to normalise news coverage in Africa, While we won't ignore the tragedy and injustice of conflict, our cameras will bring viewers the myriad of stories of achievement and causes for celebration.

"We want to concentrate on the people of Africa, not necessarily the political initiatives of those in power."

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