The BBC World Service will extend its reach across the world as it launches new services in 12 languages such as Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya from next month.

The service aims to target areas such as Ethiopia and Eritrea as part of the £289 million expansion, its biggest since the 1940s.

The expansion will continue to roll out further services, including Korean, throughout the year with a view to deliver BBC News in more than 40 languages.

Plans begin on Monday with the launch of a new digital service in Pidgin, a language spoken by more than 75 million people across Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Equatorial Guinea.

BBC World Service
BBC World Service has its headquarters in central London (Lewis Whyld/PA)

Describing the wider project as a “new chapter” for the BBC, the broadcaster’s director general, Lord Tony Hall, said: “The BBC World Service is one of the UK’s most important cultural exports.

“In a world of anxieties about ‘fake news’, where media freedom is being curtailed rather than expanded, the role of an independent, impartial news provider is more important than ever.

“The new services we’re launching will reach some of the most under-served audiences in the world.”

Commenting on the new Pidgin service, which will feature six daily editions of BBC Minute, World Service director Francesca Unsworth said: “For more than 80 years the BBC World Service has brought trusted news to people across the globe.

BBC launch culture UK
Lord Tony Hall (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“I’m delighted that millions in West and then East Africa will be able to access the BBC in the languages they speak.”

She added: “The BBC World Service expansion will also bring benefits to audiences in the UK. Having more journalists on the ground will enrich our international reporting, bringing news from areas which are often under-reported.”

The Pidgin service will grow in November to include two daily news video bulletins and will be followed by two further West Africa services, in Yoruba and Igbo, next year.

The upcoming services in Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya will be supplemented later in the year with shortwave radio services made up of 15-minute current affairs programmes followed by five-minute Learning English programmes on weekdays.