On Friday January 20, 2017, the Focus on Africa British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World News Team engaged one of the incubates at Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) to further appreciate innovation as solutions to communities most pressing challenges. Stephen Ssekanyo the Lead Innovator with Kungula! Thresh It- a low-cost optimized post-harvest technology for mechanized threshing and winnowing of maize had the opportunity to initially interact with the BBC Team at the RAN Innovation Lab. This BBC Team led by Sophie Ikenye, Pesenter/Producer BBC World News, Focus on Africa flanked by Producer Mayeni Jones work with the flagship news and current affairs programme covering Africa and broadcasting across the world with the aim of escalating the message about young people across the continent who are finding innovative solutions to everyday problems.
This engagement continued on Tuesday January 24, 2017 with a field visit to Bbuto, a suburb in Bweyogerere (45 minutes’ drive from Kampala Business Center towards Eastern Uganda) to appreciate and film the Maize Thresher at work. This mechanized machine threshes 1000 kgs of maize using 1 litre of fuel in an hour. Prior to the field visit, the BBC team had an in-depth chat with Prof. William Bazeyo, Dean Makerere University School of Public Health and RAN Chief of Party/ Lab Director. During this chat, they sought to understand if innovations from students have had a significant impact on communities, what the challenges have been and what Prof. Bazeyo’s opinion is on the future of Africa and innovation. Prof. Bazeyo also shared that ‘the innovation environment in Uganda and Africa at large is promising, we are almost launching Game Changing solutions here in Uganda to transform African communities and beyond. The potential and creativity of the students, faculty and the communities cannot be underestimated. We however need to hand-hold the innovators’ hands and closely walk this journey with them’. Immediately after the chat with Prof. Bazeyo, Sophie said ‘The 30 minutes I have spent with Dean Bazeyo have been too informative that I do not regret having known and met him’. ‘He is too knowledgeable and visionary too especially in relation to developing and providing solutions through innovation to address communities’ problems. The RAN team together with the innovators is doing commendable work in Uganda and I believe that this is spread through the RAN network’ she added.
Since the BBC Focus on Africa team is broadcasting live from Kampala Uganda, up to 10 RAN innovators and students will join the audience at the Square, New Vision Publication Offices on Jinja Road. These are the kind of engagements which are directed to both knowledge generation and sharing but also largely exposing the participants. The desire is a lasting engagement with BBC as we together work towards sharing Africa’s moving and transformative stories.