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Science Communication/Africa Science Desk (ASD)

Science communication activities are geared to improve the visibility of The AAS and science in Africa, build networks and build journalists' capacity to report on science.

 

Science journalism is a “dying profession” due to the closure of science desks across the globe, and Africa is no exception. The result is a dearth of credible public information about science, which in turn produces poor public scientific literacy. Compounding effects are the disappearance of outlets by which scientists themselves gain expertise in areas outside their own fields and through which policymakers receive credible information on science.
 
In Africa, as elsewhere, science stories are overwhelmed by politics, sports and business news. The poor quality and quantity of science stories is exacerbated by a ‘formal training deficit’ on the continent, because few journalists have a science background. Moreover, stories are increasingly written from press releases without independent analysis or skeptical review. This leads to the unfortunate and ever-increasing practice of “churnalism”, whereby news organisations republish verbatim material sent by public relations agencies and commercial sources, undermining the credibility of science reporting.


Reinforcing and building science journalism in Africa is the focus of the Africa Desk Science, a two-year project being implemented by The African Academy of Sciences and the AUDA-NEPAD Agency’s Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa in with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
 
The project focuses on Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa, with journalists from these countries being funded to produce TV documentaries, short web videos, explainers, short or long-form investigative reports and data stories aimed at local or global news markets.  Journalists will be paired with senior science journalists internationally and continentally who will provide the mentorship needed to improve the quality of science reporting.
 
Journalists and newsrooms are invited to submit pitches. They will be considered monthly through mid-2019 based on submission by the 5th of each month.
 

Journalists are invited to read the call for pitches  and frequently asked questions for more details.

A network to bring together science communicators from across the continent to share ideas and collaboratively improve the visibility of science in Africa.

Meet the Team

AESA Team Member
Juliette Mutheu Head of Communications and PR
AESA Team Member
Deborah-Fay Ndlovu Communications Manager
AESA Team Member
Charles Njagi Digital Content Editor
AESA Team Member
Shylee Mbuchucha Communications Officer - Media
AESA Team Member
Davies Mbela Communications Assistant

Journalist Profiles

Dorcas Wangira
Kenya

Dorcas Wangira is an early career journalist passionate about science and human-interest features. She is a Features reporter working with Citizen Television, Kenya’s leading TV network. She has previously worked as a Special Projects reporter and news correspondent for KTN NEWS, Kenya’s only 24-hour news network.

For her work, she has been awarded the 2019 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling , nominated for the 2018 Upstream Oil and Gas Journalist of the Year Award and the Zimeo 2017 Award for Climate Change and Conservation reporting. She has also been shortlisted for the UK Foreign Press 2017 Young Journalist Award and the 2015 Mohamed Amin Africa Media Award People’s Choice Award. 

Tadaferua Ujorha
Nigeria

Tadaferua Ujorha is currently a Freelance Journalist in Abuja, Nigeria. He has reported on science, pastoral life, environment  and development for about fifteen years, covering key events in Nigeria  and West Africa.

He is a Laureate of the Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA), and has enjoyed the Panos and Global Dvelopment Network Media Fellowships. He is also an award-winning journalist,  and  won the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism (2017), the GKP/Panos media Award (2003) and many in-house awards for Features writing, while working at Daily Trust Newspaper(Nigeria).
Alioune Badara Diatta
Senegal

Alioune Badara Diatta is currently a journalist at Intelligences Magazine, a monthly magazine based in Dakar. A young journalist very interested in environmental issues, ICTs, Science.

He is laureate of the national competition in investigative journalism 2019 organized by the Center of studies of sciences and techniques of the information (CESTI), the Network of the journalists for the Good governance of the Mineral Resources (REJOB) in partnership with OXFAM for its investigation into the impacts of extractive industries in Thiès region (East Dakar).

Sibusiso Biyela
South Africa

Sibusiso Biyela is a South African science communicator and journalist. He is an award-winning science columnist for Noseweek, a South African investigative journalism magazine.

He has been a fellow of the Kavli Prize Scholarship, and an established speaker on science communication at international conferences. He is currently interested in using digital media to communicate science, and he has recently embarked on efforts to decolonize science communication using indigenous languages. He can be found making groan-inducing science jokes on Twitter at @AstroSibs and some of his work can be found at http://www.scibraai.co.za

Gatonye Gathura
Kenya

Gatonye Gathura is currently contracted by the Standard Media Group to generate science content for their outlets as an independent correspondent.

He is also a correspondent for other outlets including Mongabay.com and his blog www.rocketsciences.co.ke  He is a former science editor with the Nation Media Group and Standard Media in Nairobi. He has more than 28 years of experience in science journalism and a graduate of Kenya Institute of Mass Communication.

Paul ADEPOJU
Nigeria

Paul ADEPOJU is a Nigerian scientist, academician, journalist, publishing author, geneticist, local content creator, and media entrepreneur.

He currently teaches genetics and histopathology at Nigeria's Babcock University and he covers science, health, tech and development issues across Africa for The Lancet, Devex, SciDev.Net, CNN, Quartz and several other media outlets. He's also the founder of healthnews.africa and is currently completing a doctorate degree in cell biology and genetics at Nigeria's premier university, the University of Ibadan. He has bagged several awards and he speaks at conferences in various parts of the world. As a researcher, he is fascinated with tuberculosis immunogenetics while as a journalist, he searches for stories that affect the lives of everyday Africans especially when such is from the continent’s scientific community.

Chioma Obinna
Nigeria

Chioma Obinna is a multiple award-winning journalist with core interest in health and science reporting.  A Senior Health Correspondent with Vanguard Media Limited, she holds a Higher National Diploma in Mass  Communication from the Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra State.

She holds a Certificate in Advanced Writing and Reporting Skills from the School of Media and Communication, PAN ATLANTIC University, and certificate on Science  Solution Journalism from School of Journalism and Media Studies,  Rhodes University,  South Africa. 

She began her journalism career with Vanguard Media Limited in Abuja, the Federal Capital city of Nigeria as a Labour and Environment reporter.

She has attended several courses, and conferences both in Nigeria and abroad. She has won several awards including 2017 Nigeria Media Merit Award, NMMA, for Innovative Reporter of the year.  She was two times winner, Best Health Correspondent, in Lagos State (2008 and 2009), the winner, 2015 Healthcare Media Excellence Award, won the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research Award for Medical Research Reporting 2012 etc.

Beth Amato
South Africa

Beth Amato is a South African writer and journalist who has specialised in early childhood and human development.

She won the Media Monitoring Africa Isu Elihle Award in 2017 for her feature on the link between criminality and early childhood trauma. In 2018, she was awarded a Dart Center early childhood development fellowship to write about the intricacies of fatherhood in South Africa. Recently, the African Academy of Sciences, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has awarded Beth the opportunity to write about poverty's impact on future generations' gene expressions. 

Most of Beth's time is spent as the specialist writer at the Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence in Human Development, hosted at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.  She publishes research-informed work for among others, the Sunday Times, and Wits University's research magazine, Curiosity. 

Ruth Akinwunmi-King
Nigeria

Ruth Akinwunmi-King is a Nigerian multimedia journalist with about a decade experience working with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria.

Ruth Akinwunmi-King is a Nigerian multimedia journalist with about a decade experience working with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria. She has covered diverse beats ranging from politics, crime and human interest stories. In the last three years, she has consistently produced stories on the environment, maternal and child health and human rights  intersection on poor underreported communities in Nigeria's economic capital, Lagos.
 
Her passion for health reporting was ignited in 2013 after she experienced the birth of her second child through C-Section due to preclampsia which is High Blood Pressure induce during pregnancy, this has largely contributed to maternal mortality rate in Nigeria.
 
Ruth has a great passion of reporting issues about women, the fishery sector in Nigeria and other countries in Africa with a team of Journalists Reporting Responsible Fishing in Africa, Rejopra. She has undergone training with the Thomas Reuters Foundation, Training on Fact-Checking, Workshop on the fishing sector in Africa by COAPA in Gambia and Media Tour with OCP group Morocco. Ruth holds a Diploma Ccertificate in Basic Journalism, a National Diploma in Mass Communication and ,presently studying at a Private Institution for her Higher Diploma in Mass Communication on.
Abjata Khalif
Kenya

Abjata Khalif is an award winning journalist based in Northern Kenya region with 12 years’ work experience and specializing in covering various thematic topics like  Climate Change...

Abjata Khalif is an award winning journalist based in Northern Kenya region with 12 years’ work experience and specializing in covering various thematic topics like  Climate Change, Refugee affairs, Investigative works, Human rights violations and other injustices, Human trafficking, Women rights, pastoralism, Human security and cross border issues, Renewable energy among others.

I was born in 1978 in Wajir County of Northern Kenya and I have worked with various local media houses like The People Daily Newspaper, Reject Magazine and other international media outlets like Reuters and Spore magazine based in Belgium.  Newsdeeply based in the U.S, ZAM Magazine based in the Netherlands, Sci-Dev, an online science news platform, and Bloomberg news media.

 I won KEMEP/UNFPA award on best reporting work on Female Genital Mutilation in 2010.

Apart from reporting climate change and its links to other thematic issues, I chair regional media organisation in northern Kenya known as Kenya Pastoralist Journalists Network, which uses community media, community outreaches, focus group discussions and advocacy campaigns in imparting and disseminating information to pastoralist communities with view of building their capacities in addressing various issues like climate change, advancing climate adaptation among others.

Toyin Adebayo
Nigeria

Toyin Adebayo is dedicated professional and investigative journalist with over a decade experience of covering news, current events and human angle stories.

My background lies in gathering and analyzing facts about newsworthy events through stories, features, interview, investigation, and observation. My reports have featured in many National Dailies and currently with INDEPENDENT Newspaper. Toyin holds a BA Ed in English Education, a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalist and National Association of Women Journalist. She is passionate about issues that concern women and children and this has reflected in several of her reports. Toyin is married with kids and presently lives in Abuja, Nigeria

O’Femi Kolawole
Nigeria

O’Femi Kolawole is a Red-Ribbon award-winning Nigerian journalist, investigative reporter, and founder, POSTERITY MEDIA. 

Between 2016 and 2017, he served as Programme Director, Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation. He was earlier Programme Associate at Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria.

Kolawole, convener of POSTERITY MEDIA BUSINESS FORUM which engages different stakeholders on Nigeria’s socio-economic issues, is a finalist of the 2018-2019 Nieman Fellowship for Journalists at Harvard University.

He’s author of the highly-acclaimed book on editors, The Gatekeepers. His other books include Maximising Internship Potentials, and biography of Africa’s first TV producer, Segun Olusola: An Icon of Man’s Humanity to Man. 

An alumnus of The Polytechnic Ibadan, and the Creative Lives Programme of the British Council, Pan Atlantic University and the University of Glamorgan, UK, his stories have appeared in PUNCH, THISDAY, and SAHARA REPORTERS. As an investigative reporter, he has received funding from the AAS. 

Kolawole loves reading and meeting people.

Gerald Andae
Kenya

Gerald Andae is a professional journalist working with the Nation Media Group.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Busoga University in Uganda and currently working on my thesis at Moi University, where I have been pursuing masters in linguistics, media and communication.

Last year I was lucky to be part of the 28 fellows who were competitively selected worldwide to participate in a three month fellowship programme on science communication at the Ivy-league Cornell University in New York.

Over the last eight years I have been covering a lot on science, which is my main beat of reporting in the newsroom.

George Achia Odhiambo
Kenya

George Achia Odhiambo is a media professional with 4 years’ experience as a science and development writer

George Achia Odhiambo is a media professional with 4 years’ experience as a science and development writer. I have proven skills in writing and editing over the years, augmented by regional and international travels that have exposed me to communications, media practices and general publishing in Africa and globally in my over four years as science writer with Africa’s leading media house on science, innovation & development - ScienceAfrica; coupling as a correspondent for various publications in Africa and beyond including Science Development Network (SciDev.Net) and AfricaSTI.com, all focusing on various aspects of science, research and development in Africa. I have also been a freelance science writer for local dailies in Kenya including the Daily Nation, and the Star newspapers.

I am a contributor for the book Africa’s Minds: Build a Better Future. The book highlights 15 success stories of Africa’s science and development. I am a degree holder in Bachelor of Arts - Linguistic & Literary Studies from Moi University, Kenya, and an ongoing Masters degree in Strategic Communication at the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Leopold Obi
Nigeria

Leopold Obi is an award winning science journalist with four year experience covering science and environment related topics.

I previously worked with Thomson Reuters as a correspondent environment feature writer in 2015 before joining Daily Nation in 2016 where I work to date. Winner Development Reporting Award, 2017 First Runners-Up Environment Reporting Award, 2017 I also have a degree in Bsc Journalism & Communication My articles have appeared in Reuters, Daily Mail, Daily Nation, Business Daily and Christian Science Monitor among other major publications. As a science journalist, my work focuses on environment investigative reporting, climate change & conservation, agriculture/ blue-economy & food security, innovation & technology among other human interest topics.

Annie Njanja
Kenya

Annie Njanja is a journalist with a keen interest on health, climate change and gender issues. During my five years as a journalist i have also explored technology and business reporting.

I have been writing for the Nation Media Group's business publication (Business Daily) for the last four years and prior to that i was attached at the The East African BT magazine for a year. I am an International Center for Journalist (ICFJ) Early Childhood Development fellow and Global Editor's Network (GEN) Data Journalism 2017 award winner, an accolade i clinched for a science story i wrote on Malaria prevention study at the Lake Victoria region. I used data to show the burden of the illness on various regions in Kenya. I received my bachelor's degree at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

Adie Vanessa Offiong
Nigeria

Adie Vanessa Offiong is an award-winning journalist and head of the Arts and Entertainment desk at Daily Trust newspaper.

She has an interest in reporting development issues with a human angle and solutions-based approach. Vanessa uses a data-driven approach to cover topics including women & children, environment, agriculture, health and women in business. Vanessa was a 2017 intern with the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp and a 2018 Health Systems Global Media Fellow.

James Kahongeh
Kenya

James Kahongeh is a highly versatile and enthusiastic journalist with three years of experience in print media, I am currently working as a features correspondent at the Daily Nation (owned by the Nation Media Group, Kenya) from 2016. 

I am passionate about global social trends, development, data journalism, technology, innovation and science. I am profoundly excited about the dynamics brought about by technology in the journalism arena. 

I studied a degree course in Linguistics, Media and Communication at Moi University, Kenya. My skill-set spans print, broadcast and digital media. 

Having started off my career as an intern three years ago, I have since transformed into a dependable journalist and editors’ go-to person with the ability to execute major story projects with incredible ease. 

My insatiable curiosity to thank, my presentation skills, ability to work within strict daily and weekly timelines and to submit well-researched, incisive and multidimensional social stories with a bent on data have transformed immensely.  

In July 2019, I completed an exhaustive short course on data journalism, and the vast possibilities that exist within this domain, as a tool to tell diverse stories in a simpler and comprehensive fashion.  

I couldn’t be happier to be in this space as technology and data journalism gain traction locally and regionally. 

Christabel Ligami
Kenya

Christabel Ligami is a Freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya whose reporting work focuses on science/health, gender,  business, development, environment, climate change  issues in Africa.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemist/Chemistry and a masters of Arts degree in communications studies. In 2016 she won the International Women Media Foundation grants to cover women issues – the Inaugural Reporting Grants To Amplify Women’s Voices In The News Media. She is also a three times East African award winner as the Best science/health reporter of the year 2013, Best Business Reporter of the year 2014 and Best Financial Reporter of the year 2014 among other awards. Ms Ligami was a speaker at the 2017 World Conference of Science Journalists in San Francisco USA. She co-organized and moderated a session at the World Conference of Science Journalists 2019 in Lausanne, Switzerland. 

Chikezie Omeje
Nigeria

Chikezie Omeje is a senior investigative and data reporter with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, Nigeria. Omeje primarily covers health and education.

He has more than 10 years of media experience, working in broadcast, print and online media. Omeje was the 2013 winner of the Development Communications Network’s Journalist Development Programme Award for best report in Abuja, and the award for overall best broadcast piece.

Jeckonia Otieno
Kenya

Jeckonia Otieno is a science journalist with the Standard Newspaper in Kenya.

Having started as a general features' reporter, he branched off into health and environment journalism after a fellowship with Internews in Kenya. He is an award winner with Media Council of Kenya, International Center for Journalists and Highway Africa, among others.