In a somewhat unique move, the United States have announced that they are to finance a new 24-hour satellite TV channel in northern Nigeria in the latest fight against insurgents.
The project, which is already underway, is aiming to counter insurgencies by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram and other groups in the region.
A US official said the country would: “support Nigerian efforts to provide an attractive alternative to the messaging of violent extremists.”
According to sources, the project has been in the making for two years with initial discussions taking part as far back as 2012. The contents of the channel will be produced in Nigeria by Nigerians in response to the violent Boko Haram group.
In recent months, the US has been one of a number of countries which has increased its collaboration with Lagos, providing greater surveillance and communication in response to violence from Boko Haram – in particular due to the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in April.
The new TV channel, which is not yet broadcasting but is near to completion, will be financed by the state department’s bureau of counterterrorism and is expected to cost about £3.6m.
The project is run in Nigeria by Equal Access International, a San Francisco-based government contractor that has managed media programs sponsored by the state department in Yemen and Pakistan meant to encourage youth participation in politics and counter Islamist extremism.
According to The Times newspaper, foreign policy experts have said the project faced several challenges in a region with low levels of infrastructure, public services, literacy and security. Access to electricity is limited and few people own televisions.
In addition to the broadcasts, the Times said the project would provide training to journalists in the region.