Africa Science Focus

Africa Science Focus

Africa Science Focus is SciDev.Net's award-winning weekly podcast. We dive deep into the impacts that science has on everything from health, to technology, agriculture and life. Subscribe to get the best science and development news from the continent delivered straight to you!

Episodes

May 25, 2022 15 min

Every year, dog bites that spread the rabies virus cause more than 59,000 preventable deaths – 99 per cent of them in Africa and Asia. This week on Africa Science Focus, we hear from Ahmed Lugelo in Tanzania, whose research team spent almost 15 years following around 50,000 dogs to find out why rabies still exists in the Serengeti district

We learn about a potential new single dose human vaccine that could increase protection agai...

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Maize yields are expected to be drastically lower this season than in previous years in drought-hit Sub-Saharan Africa. While the drop will affect the entire region, Kenya is facing the biggest struggle as one of the region's largest importers of the staple food. 

 This week on Africa Science Focus, maize buyers and sellers tell us that prices are already soaring in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Mario Zappacosta from the Food and Ag...

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Basic living costs are rising across Africa and around the world. The 2022 Global Report on Food Crises paints a picture of increasing hunger and malnutrition, with almost 200 million people worldwide in need of urgent assistance. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria are among the ten countries with the highest number of people in crisis. This week, Africa Science Focus reporter Ijeoma Ukazu finds out how families...

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May 4, 2022 15 min
mRNA vaccine technology has been a game-changer in the management of COVID-19. Now, scientists are looking to take on other infectious diseases that have burdened Sub-Saharan Africa for decades. 

This week, Africa Science Focus reporter Michael Kaloki finds out how African researchers cracked the code of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. And, he hears how the technology could offer a much-needed breakthrough in the fight against HIV, mala...
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Half of humanity is at risk of the devastating effects of climate breakdown. This disruption in nature, caused mainly by human actions, threatens the planet’s welfare, particularly in poor and developing countries, many of which are in Africa.

In the second episode of Season Three, Africa Science Focus talks to a strawberry farmer in Kenya and the Meteorological Department in Kenya to determine the extent of damage caused by an over...

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It was December 2019 when the first COVID-19 outbreak was recorded in Wuhan, China. Since then, the world has seen global lockdowns, closed borders and healthcare systems stretched to breaking point. But what’s happening now? Is the pandemic over in Africa, or are we poised for a deadly new phase?

In the first episode of Season Three, Africa Science Focus takes you from the streets of Nairobi to the Kenya Medical Association, and in...

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April 13, 2022 15 min

With nine in every ten new jobs in 2030 expected to require digital skills, graduates in Africa — and young women in particular — without information and communications technology training will be left behind. In this episode, we hear from two women working to change that - Unoma Okorafor and Baratang Miya.

Okorafor has founded the Working to Advance African Women Foundation, which is equipping girls with the science and technology ...

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April 6, 2022 15 min

When a monkey joined her in playing the piano, 12-year-old Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka knew she wanted to work with animals. Little did she know that her passion for primates would eventually lead to her to become Uganda’s first wildlife vet. This week, we look at the topic of agriculture and conservation, and hear how Gladys’ love for gorillas grew into a community coffee and conservation project.

Whilst Gladys tries to clean up the pra...

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March 30, 2022 14 min

When Jane Kubai fled forced marriage at the age of 11, she began working as a maid and found support to go to school. She later took a job as a security guard at a hospital in Kenya — and discovered a passion for surgery. Working day and night, Kubai studied to become a theatre technologist. And she has her eyes fixed firmly on becoming a surgeon.

However, Jane is the exception. Eight of the ten countries in the world with the highe...

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March 23, 2022 15 min

If you ask any news reporter on the continent what the most important story in Africa is right now, they’ll tell you that it’s climate change.

This week, we revisit the COP26 climate summit, we’ll hear how volunteers have planted over 30 million trees across Sub-Saharan Africa, and we’ll discover why bugs are a sustainable source of protein that could help in the fight against climate change.

Catch up on the full interviews included ...

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March 16, 2022 15 min

It’s hard to believe that we’re already coming to the end of season 2 of Africa Science Focus! Over the next few weeks we’ll take you back through some of the most important issues that we dug into this season.

Today, we’ll hear again from some of the best science communicators who have come on the show to tell you about their work. We’ll learn about the Cradle of Humankind, where some of the world’s most important human fossils hav...

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Nana Aba Appiah Amfo joined a swathe of women at the top of their fields when she became the University of Ghana’s first female Vice-Chancellor in late 2021. Amfo says her strategy now is to incorporate technology and innovation into every aspect of university life, to produce graduates who are both critical thinkers and technologically adept as the world continues on its digital revolution. 

 A powerhouse in the world of linguistic...

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Coceka Mfundisi is only the third black female neurosurgeon in South Africa. More than 50 years after the first brain and spinal surgeons were trained, the field remains limited in Africa, and the continent’s unmet need for neurosurgery has been described by scientists as “staggering”.

Mfundisi tells Africa Science Focus that patients in Africa often turn to doctors of Western medicine as a last resort — a hierarchy that she says ke...

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February 23, 2022 15 min

While around 30 per cent of researchers in Sub-Saharan Africa are women, just 20 per cent of the continent’s coders are female. Baratang Miya is on a mission to change this statistic. 

Miya established the training and entrepreneurship organisation GirlHype in 2003 to introduce girls from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds to coding, with graduates going on to work with major computer and software companies. 

With artificial intel...

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February 16, 2022 15 min

Just a few years ago, Nzambi Matee decided to do something about the plastic pollution that she saw all over Kenya. Now, she has designed and built a thriving recycling and brick production facility, and her social enterprise Gjenge Makers has recycled plastic waste weighing more than five female elephants.  

 This week on Africa Science Focus, reporter Michael Kaloki takes a tour of Matee’s workshop – and finds out how she is tackl...

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Schools in Uganda have reopened after the world’s longest shutdown. More than 10 million students are now trying to adjust to life back in the classroom. Teachers and researchers will also begin the task of assessing how much learning was lost during lockdown.   

Education and science communication guru Connie Nshemereirwe tells Africa Science Focus that it has made an already complex educational situation even more complex. And, we...
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February 2, 2022 15 min

Around 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa live without access to electricity. Leading environmentalist Wanjira Mathai says that communities are forced to rely on burning wood and other fuels for heat and for cooking, which damages ecosystems and threatens families’ health. 

Mathai tells Africa Science Focus why energy access is crucial to both development and conserving the continent’s forests and landscapes. And, she tells us...

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Managing a wave of an unknown COVID-19 variant is a challenge for even the most experienced doctor. But for one of the youngest doctors in South Africa, the outbreaks of Omicron and Delta were a steep learning curve. 

Thakgalo Thibela is just 22 years old, and her first years as a medical doctor have been spent on the frontlines of the pandemic at Johannesburg’s public Helen Joseph Hospital. Thibela tells Africa Science Focus what i...

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Fried, crispy and crunchy: entomologist Esther Ngumbi says scientists and chefs are collaborating to find ways to make insects the next big thing in the culinary world. 

Packed with protein, bugs can be grown in urban areas with limited space, Ngumbi tells Africa Science Focus. She says insect production is ideal in areas that experience drought, while they could also reduce agricultural emissions that contribute to climate change.

F...

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January 12, 2022 15 min

Season 2, Episode 16

An estimated three million people in Uganda live with vision loss, and more than 80,000 of them are blind. The most common cause of blindness in Uganda — cataracts — can be corrected with straightforward surgery. But with only 45 eye doctors for 46 million people, treatment is out of reach in many of Uganda’s communities.

 Gladys Atto is the sole ophthalmologist serving 1.2 million people in Uganda’s remote Karam...

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