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Africa Science Focus

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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!

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!


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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!




‘Millions’ abandoning cancer treatment

Treatment abandonment is a major reason for Sub-Saharan Africa’s growing cancer death rates. Our reporter Michael Kaloki finds out why so many people are giving up on treatment, and what is being done to encourage people to stick with their treatments. In the final episode of our three-part mini-series, Beatrice Wiafe, breast health expert and one of three lead researchers of a recent Lancet Oncology Commission report, comes back to tell us the reasons treatment abandonment is rife in...


Building expertise for cancer management

Sub-Saharan Africa has an acute shortage of workers for cancer treatment and care. It means that, by 2030, there could be 1 million deaths annually in the region without intervention. In this second episode of our three-part mini-series, Africa Science Focus reporter Michael Kaloki follows up with Beatrice Wiafe, a breast health expert and one of the lead researchers of a cancer report by health journal The Lancet, on why there is a deficit of medical workers in cancer and what it will take...


Cancer care ‘transforming’ in next decade

The cancer burden in Sub-Saharan Africa is rising. It is set to nearly double by 2030, with cancer deaths predicted to reach one million yearly without intervention, a report by The Lancet Commission shows. In the first episode of a special three-part mini-series, Africa Science Focus reporter Michael Kaloki speaks to the experts who unpack the reasons that 80 per cent of people in the region prefer traditional and alternate medicine. We find out how this affects diagnosis and treatment,...


Ethiopia: Drought drives deadly child hunger

Conflict and drought have left millions of people in Ethiopia without access to food, water and healthcare. Health centres in the north of the country have been devastated by three years of violence. Meanwhile, the worst drought in forty years has hit agriculture and livestock in eastern and southern Ethiopia. Millions of people around the country need urgent food aid, but fuel shortages have forced support organisations to reduce or suspend deliveries. This week, our reporter Halima...


Africa leads global monkeypox research

Monkeypox was first discovered in humans in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970, and is now endemic in more than ten countries in Africa. Scientists in the region have spent years studying the disease, so this week on Africa Science Focus we spoke to the continent’s top monkeypox researchers to find out what the world can learn from Africa. The current outbreaks of monkeypox in countries with no history of the virus can be contained, according to Fiona Braka, who leads the World Health...


Can you code better than a 3-year-old?

Writing computer code might seem daunting. But across Sub-Saharan Africa, children as young as three are learning how to talk to computers. Coding clubs are springing up all over Africa to teach the region’s future tech leaders how to do everything from building computer games, to creating smartphone apps, controlling robots, and running scientific experiments. This week on Africa Science Focus, we meet Wariara Waireri from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a global computer and digital...


Can coffee survive in a warmer world?

Coffee is a major industry in Sub-Saharan Africa, supplying around ten per cent of the world’s coffee beans. But coffee plants are under threat from climate change. This week on Africa Science Focus, our reporter Michael Kaloki heads to the first G25 African Coffee Summit in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, to find out what the continent’s coffee future looks like. We hear from Elijah Gichuru, the director of the Coffee Research Institute at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research...


On the tail of a rabies solution

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 against rabies. And, our reporter Michael Kaloki speaks to...


Maize shortage ‘biggest issue in Africa’

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 Agriculture Organization tells reporter Michael Kaloki why economic...


Cost of living crisis deepens malnutrition

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 in Nigeria are managing to maintain a healthy diet, as the...


Africa cracks the mRNA code

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, malaria and tuberculosis. This piece was produced by...


Lack of early warning systems leaves millions at risk

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 overheated climate. And why effective adaptation systems must...


COVID-19 – is the pandemic over in Africa?

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 into the corridors of the World Health Organization Regional...


Review: girls and computers

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 skills of the future, while Miya has established the...


Review: agriculture and conservation

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 practices of local communities in rural regions of Uganda,...


Review: child marriage

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 highest rates of child marriage are in Africa. According to the...


Review: Africa’s changing climate

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 in today’s show: Taking on the climate crisis Growing...


Review: bones, schools, and dementia

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 have been found; we’ll hear how Uganda’s long school shutdown...


Unity, technology drive Africa forward

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 linguistics, Amfo tells Africa Science Focus that dreams can come true...


Africa’s ‘staggering’ neuroscience needs

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 keeps her humble. While Mfundisi says she respects...