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Refugee launches maker space to teach others how to make things

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Jaiksana displaying his hand made solar mobile phone charger at ThingsCon Nairobi in 2017

Of the many young innovators in Africa, Jaiksana Jose is up there with the most impressive. He was born of South Sudanese refugee parents in Uganda and has beaten all odds to become a pillar of hope to his community through technology. We spoke to him to find out more about his ventures JHub and Ospace, as well as his vision for a better tomorrow.

Tell us about yourself, your educational background, skills and most importantly about your journey as a refugee from Sudan in the tech space.
My names are Jaiksana A. Jose, I’m a south sudanese who was born in Uganda to a refugee family in 1996, our family return to south sudan in 1999 however in 2016 due to the civil conflict that erupted in my home country, we were forced flee to Uganda and thus am being a refugee for the second time of my lifetime.
About my Education background, I’m an media and communications enthusiast, but my actual education in class ended way back in high school because I could not afford university tuition and that perspective bent me to look at education through the lens Do It yourself (DIY) – online studies, reading books and engaging in p2p learning clusters in innovations hubs – engaging and encouraging local innovations
I’m self-trained photographer and video editor, I also tinker with electronics and hardware and do basic repairs like fixing my on own radio, building a solar charger or LED lights.
My journey in the tech innovation spaces started in 2015 when I took part in the first tech boot camp event in south sudan called the peacehackcamp, an intensive media literacy and inter-communal peace-building project that taps into the opportunities of open sources tools and media for their ability to promote collaboration entreprise in learning and innovation, fostering mutual beneficial interaction among communities and enabling shared ownership and effective distribution of knowledge – the event was followed up by a project called the step Juba media Lab – a collaboration between Kapital Movie, Icebauhuas and the_rog agency for open culture and critical transformation based in berlin which aims to support the implementation of a community oriented training centre in Juba, South Sudan, Armed with the knowledge and skills earn from these two trainings, I return hometown to pioneer in starting the first innovation venture there.

innovation ongoing at Jhub

Tell us about ospacehub and jubahub, what happens at these spaces.
Juba hub is the first innovation to ever exist in south sudan, and the hub offers services like incubation of start-ups, training, research and open space with internet and power which core challenges for workers in south sudan since there is no government provided electricity everywhere, the Ospace hub is also tailored on the same values, it looks at empowering young people through media, tech trainings and offering an open space to accelerate collaborations and development of start-ups.

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You spoke at ThingsConNBO on Dec 8th, and said you convene with people and train yourselves to build your own solutions such as chargers etc. How is this program funded, how do you spread word to potential attendees?
Yes, we have done a number of open trainings in south sudan and in the refugee camps of northern Uganda all aimed at introducing and impacting skills of building and product development where there limited access to resources, internet and electricity.
Initially, this program was supported by German federal ministry for economic corporation and development (BMZ) under its access to information and media development small funding program.
We are currently spreading word through conference like the thingson, of course about the impact generated through the open tech project and look to foundations, organisations and hubs within africa and beyond to help us scale this cause not to only reach a big number of people but also establish a strong ecosystem of DIY making and self empowerments in refugees camps and everywhere.

How do you think we can use technology to foster peace and togetherness in South Sudan and Africa at large.
Technology is tool can be used to do either good or it’s contrary, So if the world can put more emphasis on empowering people to use tech for social good by supporting digitals skills training and social innovations initiatives like #Askotec and others, it’ll help reduce some of the challenges it’s facing now because the question is how can we use tech, for example to stop war / climate changes? And the answer goes to the basics of adapting green tech and environment friendly means of electricity like solar instead of using compared to using generators which not only make noise but pollute the environment .. to peace building the principle also weighs on the same scale because many of the issues that deter people from living together most especially in south sudan are mindsets and the element of using tech wrongly, for example hate speech has been noted as one of the main agents fuelling the conflict in south sudan which education through / about technology can be used to mitigate it.

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You developed the open hardware guide and “access to skills and knowledge kit” with your partners. Who is it meant for, and how can they access it and use it?
The #Askotec ( Access to skills and knowledge open tech emergency case) is designed a mobile trainers and DIY builders kits to tackle basic field challenges like repairs, upcycling as well as distribution of knowledge so its for everyone however because it’s still development process, we distributed three kits in hubs and learning space in Uganda and south sudan to be continually tested and used for feedback purposes.

What motivates you to wake up and work harder everyday?
I think there are many things that motivate me but above all I would want to say that growing in a war-torn country has made me to bent my creativity and energy towards making things happen and am glad that what i’m doing is acting like voice for me to talk or act on programs that are much biggers

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What do you think is the future of jhub in say, 5 years?
I’m glad you asked this question, with the hub history and current trend in mind, I would say, I will see jHUB driving the innovation, media and technology sector in south sudan – championing its values of open culture, community and others.

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