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In 1980, Doyle volunteered as a student teacher at the British-Senegalese Institute in Dakar, Senegal. He later worked with human rights group Amnesty International and West Africa, a London-based magazine, before joining the BBC as a producer for the programme Focus on Africa. He continued reporting out of several African countries, becoming the East Africa correspondent from 1993 to 1994. He is known for his reporting done after he arrived in Kigali at the beginning of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Doyle was one of the few correspondents to slip into Kigali before the airport was closed and was the only journalist to report continuously throughout the genocide. His other work includes co-editor of coverage on the 1996 United States presidential election and training of Eastern European journalists in Moldova. He has been correspondent for BBC's domestic service as well as BBC World Service radio and TV and was appointed BBC's West Africa correspondent in 1997.
In 2004, Doyle received a United Nations Correspondents Association / UN Foundation UNCA Excellence in Journalism Award in the category "Reporting on Humanitarian and Developmental Affairs", with his producer Dan McMillan. The award was given for coverage of post-war Liberia under the UN peacekeeping mission. As of 2007, Doyle was writing an account of his experiences in Africa entitled Under the Same Sky: Good Guys and Bad Guys in the Failed States of Africa.
Doyle has stated that he is uncomfortable being described as an "Africa expert", noting in 1998,
The little I have learnt about this place makes me realise that I am very ignorant about it. It's a vast continent with huge differences between even neighbouring countries. Like anywhere, it's full of ordinary people just getting on with their personal, complicated lives. Anyone who claims to be an 'expert' on Africa - as if it were a homogeneous region where simple rules apply - is either arrogant or just plain silly.