China has long emphasized its media activities in Africa but it has only been in the last decade or so that it had the resources to compete with western governments and private news sources such as Voice of America, BBC, Reuters, Bloomberg, Agence France Presse and Associated Press. China's official news service, Xinhua, now has at least 20 bureaus in Africa and regional centers in Cairo and Nairobi. China Radio International (CRI) transmits from Kenya in Swahili, Chinese and English. China Central Television (CCTV) is the newest addition with a headquarters in Nairobi. All of these media services are government controlled.
Tom Rhodes, a Committee to Protect Journalists consultant based in Nairobi, recently commented on China's growing media footprint in Kenya. He noted that CCTV has a local staff of 50 and 14 correspondents in South Africa, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Senegal. CCTV plans to expand to 150 staff and become by 2015 an all news, 24-hour channel similar to CNN. This is occurring as western media sources are reducing their efforts in Africa.
Chinese media tend to emphasize "positive news stories" in Africa while western outlets report more negative developments. Rhodes adds, however, that Chinese media do not generally permit criticism of Chinese activities in Africa. Click here to read the authors brief commentary on this issue.