Ouagadougou – With the logo of his internet TV station on his black T-shirt, Inoussa Maiga energetically plucks corn stalks in northern Burkina Faso for a programme on farming in Africa.
Maiga, 30, launched Agribusiness TV in May in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou, determined to change poor opinions about agricultural work held by African youth and to help develop the continent.
“All those who went to school up to a certain level consider going back to the land as a failure, as something demeaning. Yet and we see it every day in our broadcasts, there are many opportunities for young people,” he says.
In Bagre, 245 kilometres (150 miles) north of the city, Maiga has found one of the unusual topics he likes to promote: a teacher who gives classes in maths while raising pigs and growing maize, rice and groundnuts.
Other characteristic subjects are a woman in Benin with a degree in banking and finance who works in a “man’s universe of crop production” and an inventor of helpful machines for agricultural cooperatives in Togo.
The TV channel, available on the web and mobile phones, has steadily garnered a network of correspondents in Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mali and Togo, with Mauritius next on the agenda.
‘Maximum age of 40
The editorial stance of Agribusiness TV has clear rules.
Features focus on people of “a maximum age of 40” who have a “pretty interesting” background in farming, stock-breeding and other “different links in the food chain”, Maiga explains.
Programmes can cover “food processing, green jobs, everything related to the environment and the business of sustainable agriculture”.
“We want people whose careers can inspire other people,” says the broadcaster, who set up the enterprise with his wife Nawsheen Hosenally.
Himself the son of a peasant farmer, Inoussa studied at the University of Ouagadougou, where he specialised in communications for development before founding Agribusiness TV.
He seeks “above all to showcase young Africans who are courageously committed to agriculture, who invest in the area, and possibly to bring a different outlook among young Africans to this sector,” he says, calling it “the motor for the development of African economies”.
‘Massive youth unemployment’
“When you look at the economic structure of our countries, you see that it’s in agriculture where one can create the most jobs and fight massive youth unemployment,” adds Inoussa.
“We want to spotlight young people who are doing interesting things. We seek to motivate and encourage those who would like to start out in agriculture. May this inspire them!”
Inoussa’s work won support from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), a joint institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states and the European Union.
The CTA provided funding worth 58 000 euros ($65 000) to help launch Agribusiness TV. Inoussa came up with a further 65 000 euros from his own communications firm.
Hosenally also works full time on the channel. She translates material into English and deals with technical aspects of putting broadcasts online and managing social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
The founders surpassed their aims during the first year, with 45 000 fans on Facebook and about 800 000 viewers for their broadcasts. The website is bilingual, full of videos and a blog.
But on a continent where internet access remains patchy, the founders of Agribusiness TV are happy to make their videos available to various associations to be shown in rural settings.
“We project videos ourselves when we’re invited to conferences or meetings with players in the rural world,” says Inoussa, who hopes that his channel will benefit from the gradual progress of the internet in Africa.
“Every day, at least 15 people get in touch with us asking for the contact details of such and such an entrepreneur to whom we devoted a video,” Hosenally says.
“We’re also encouraged by the messages and the comments we receive each day,” adds Inoussa.
“These are videos that inspire people, we get a lot of feedback from the entrepreneurs we meet. Some of them tell us about contracts they have signed thanks to our work.
“All this gives hope.”
Agribusiness TV is available in French and English on dedicated apps for smartphone at www.agribusinesstv.info.
Earn valuable CPD credits
Facebook has successfully tested its solar-powered Aquila drone, part of a fleet that will provide Internet access to parts of sub-Saharan Africa and beyond if all goes according to plan.
The Aquila drone is massive, foreboding and terrifying, Quartz reported. It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 jet.
It also weighs less than a car, according to The Guardian, consuming only 5,000 watts — equivalent to three hairdryers or a powerful microwave — when cruising.
The drone has a 140-foot wingspan, weighs less than 1,000 pounds, and uses laser technology that represents a breakthrough, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg said, according to Daily Mail.
‘We’ve successfully tested a new laser that can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second,” Zuckerberg said. “That’s 10 times faster than any previous system, and it can accurately connect with a point the size of a dime from more than 10 miles away.”
The first test flight took place June 28 at low altitude in Arizona, Facebook announced Thursday. The goal is to have a fleet of drones like these flying at high altitude — 60,000 to 90,000 feet — receiving Internet data from a base station via proprietary laser connections, and beaming that data down to customers, according to Quartz.
Facebook wants the drones to be able to stay in the air, powered by just the sun, for months at a time.
In South Africa, about 14 million people use Facebook every month — about 52 percent of Internet users in the country. A lot more needs to be done to connect the rest of Africa, said Nunu Ntshingila, Facebook head of Africa, HTXT reported.
“There are 800 million people that yet need to be connect to the Internet, so it is important that we connect those people,” Ntshingila said. “We need to fast-forward the rate of connection, because if people can connect to the Internet, they will be able to connect to a business. This is important for businesses, but also important for the economy of a country.”
Facebook has had a remarkable year. It’s the world’s largest social network — 1.65 billion people use it every month. Its advertising business has grown faster than expected and rivals struggle to match it. Yet what Zuckerberg talks about most these days is basic Internet connectivity, The Verge reported.
In August 2013, Facebook introduced Internet.org, a controversial effort to bring online services to underserved areas including . Since then, Facebook’s connectivity efforts have expanded. It released open-source blueprints for telecommunications infrastructure in an effort to drive down data costs. It’s testing Terragraph, which delivers data 10 times faster than existing Wi-Fi networks. And it continues to expand its Free Basics program despite setbacks, such as India banning the program over net neutrality issues.
If Facebook succeeds at its goal of keeping Aquila drones in the air and delivering data for 90-day periods, the company believes it will have a powerful new tool in bringing Internet access to the entire world, The Verge reported.
Aquila was developed in Bridgwater, Somerset, U.K. The drone will use lasers to beam down Internet access to remote areas without online capacity.
Facebook has engineers at Bridgwater with experience in aerospace, avionics and software who worked for organisations such as Nasa, Boeing and the Royal Air Force, The Guardian reported.
Zuckerberg said in March 2015 that the company had been testing drones in the skies over the U.K.
The Aquila test lasted 90 minutes—three times longer than the team originally planned, according to Quartz. The drone team will work on its control systems in future tests before they attempt to fly at high altitudes. The team tested a small-scale model of the drone for months, working out kinks, before testing the real one, which is made of carbon fiber.
Whatever else Facebook does going forward, it starts with a connected world, Zuckerberg told The Verge. “If we make progress on this, it will be one of the great things that our generation can do to improve lives around the world.”
The internet-beaming super drones are part of Zuckerberg’s plan to “coat the world in Internet,” Quartz reported. The company has been criticized for potentially being able to profit from the Internet access it aims to facilitate with Internet.org, an initiative to bring Internet to the poorest part of the world.
In May 2016, Nigeria became the 40th country in the world, and the 22nd in Africa, to join Facebook’s Free Basics, Huffington Post reported.