By HENRY OWINO
Africa Science Media Centre (AfriSMC) has been officially launched.The Centre is set to help serve Scientists, Media and Journalists across Africa.
The launching took place on Tuesday, 17 November, 2020 through virtual conferencing.
Based in Nairobi Kenya under the auspices of ScienceAfrica and partners, the AfriSMC is the first Science Media Centre to be established in Africa, with a view to bolstering effective science journalism on the continent.
The AfriSMC will provide accurate and evidence- based information on Science, Technology and Innovation (STIs) including Health, Agriculture and Engineering for the benefit of the public and policy makers.
The Centre will strive to ensure informed public debate in STIs with positive impacts on policy decisions and sustainable socio-economic development.
The AfriSMC Director Daniel Otunge, said the Centre is principally established to improve the credibility of media reporting on emerging scientific issues through close interaction, collaboration, corporation and communication between experts and journalists facilitated by the Center.
“The reason why Science Africa is has set up the AfriSMC is because there are many challenges journalists face in covering science beats in Africa and also scientists facing difficulties in their relationship with journalists for fear of being quoted out of context,” Otunge explains.
“Journalists are experiencing challenges especially when covering breaking news with regards to getting an expert to comment on the issues in short notice, said AfriSMC chairman, Otula Owuor.”
This is the gap AfriSMC is designed to fill up through its rapid response and expert opinion services that would enable the journalist to access the much-needed comment to use while covering breaking news.
The other services to be offered by the Center include production of tool kits other materials tailored for journalists, scientists and information officers.
The launch of the AfriSMC took place during the 4th African Conference of Science Journalists held virtually by the Nairobi based Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA) and its partners.
The conference brought together over 100 journalists and scientists from 35 African countries. The conference runs from Tuesday 17 through Friday 20 November 2020, with each day focusing on different development themes vis a vis the status and future of science journalism in Africa.