Public diplomacy through development assistance: China’s 10,000 Villages Project across Africa

Angela Lewis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In 2016, the rural setting of Saina village, Kajiado county in Kenya became the pilot testing ground for China’s project to provide access to television to underserved African communities (China Daily 2016). This initiative was later renamed the Access to Satellite Television 10,000 Villages Project, an infrastructure programme to enable populations outside metropolitan areas to receive television. As the contractor was a pay-TV company and this coincided with Kenya’s digital migration transition, not only were more channels available, so was improved reception. This China led provision upgrade offered public diplomacy potential, both through the project execution and Chinese television content access, as digital migration provided CGTN as a free channel. Academic focus on the nonstate contribution to China’s development projects under public–private partnership (PPP) arrangements has been inadequate, especially given the momentous ambition of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), involving scores of Chinese companies and hundreds of projects. In particular, there has also been little focus on this development assistance project despite the involvement of 20 African countries. Using framing analysis of StarTimes news coverage, this research examines how news about the project was constructed over five years, from 2015 to 2019. Results revealed that stories regarding the 10,000 Villages Project and China were minimal. This could mean that, similar to nonstate actors in developed countries, StarTimes prefers an image that downplays government connections. The low profile could also have been to shield this nonstate actor from the type of negative perceptions of company and country ties which have defined TikTok and Huawei in English language media. Whatever the reason, the result has been reduced public diplomacy benefits.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPlace Branding and Public Diplomacy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Africa
  • China
  • Development
  • Framing
  • StarTimes
  • Television


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