REASONS WHY I AM APPLYING
There is a growing concern among African science journalists that the WFSJ has sidelined science journalists on the African continent where the need for science journalism is greatest. This concern is based on the near absence or insufficient science journalists in Africa to report on the cutting-edge technologies and innovations that governments of most African states are embarking on to solve some of the developmental challenges facing the continent.
My inspiration to be on the WFSJ board is based on my conviction that the Federation can play a major role in the training and retraining of more science journalists that can properly report on scientific and technological strides in Africa.
I was among the first group of SjCOOP mentees that benefited from the Federation’s innovative mentoring program for African and Middle Eastern young and upcoming science journalists. My participation in that program with three others from Nigeria led to the formation of the Nigeria Association of Science Journalists (NASJ).
As the founding President of NASJ, I was charged with the responsibility of mobilizing other science writers across Nigeria. I brought them unto the NASJ platform. Within the one year of my tenure, I was able to bridge the divide that existed between the northern and southern based journalists.
I moved on to become the Secretary General of the African Federation of Science Journalists. As Secretary General, I was able to work with Mr. Diran Onifade, the President, to have the association registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria as a non-governmental organization.
I worked with a London-based International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publication to fund a training program for science journalists across Africa.
The training was held in Nairobi in March 2012 with over 20 science journalists from about nine African countries.
My rise to the job, fellowships and all awards that I have won/gotten since 2006 were made possible because of the knowledge I acquired during the WFSJ mentoring program.
Between 2012 and 2015, I was involved in a Cambridge University program called Biosciences For Farming in Africa (www.b4fa.org) as Nigerian Coordinator and we have succeeded in training over 150 science journalists in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and Tanzania.
I also work with African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) to train science journalists on reporting on their genetic cowpea, rice and cotton project in their operational countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Malawi.
I work closely with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), located in Ibadan, Nigeria to regularly train science journalists in Africa on how to report on agriculture for impact.
Beyond training and searching out opportunities for African science journalists, I have started a science blog, www.scientificng.com to provide a platform for science writers on the African continent to publish their works.
Becoming a board member of WFSJ, therefore, will accord me the needed impetus to continue to look for opportunities for science journalists on the African continent to horn their skills to report science for impact.
Alex Abutu – Nigerian Association of Science Journalists (NASJ)
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