(Xinhua) – After seeing the garbage mess in South Sudan’s capital Juba, 18-year-old Francis Jada thought it was time to act and do something to rid his environment of plastics and other pollutants.
Eager to acquire new skills to help him tackle the garbage crisis, Jada joined a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) center based at the University of Juba where he learned how to build robots.
Barely a year later, Jada and a team of teenagers built a prototype robot that can pick plastics and other pollutants from water bodies.
“When you move around Juba, you see a lot of rubbish especially plastics dumped around the city and they easily get to water bodies,” Jada told Xinhua.
“This robot seeks to clean oceans and also save aquatic life in the world,” he added.
Last year, Jada and six members of the South Sudan Robotic Association represented their country in the First Global Challenge in Dubai, United Arabs Emirates where the team emerged 52 out of 189 countries.
Jada said the experience he got from the competition encouraged him to study mechanical engineering at university in order to enable him contribute to the development of his conflict-torn country.
Team mentor Richard Ring said the young tech enthusiasts have exhibited exceptional skills in the technology sector.
Ring called on South Sudan’s youth to embrace technology in order to address some of the problems facing the world’s youngest country, such as food insecurity, health care and water shortages.
“We need to work hard and show the world that South Sudanese can contribute to solving the real-world problems,” Ring said.
The South Sudan Robotic Team was founded in 2017, aiming at encouraging youth to embrace and venture into science and technology to solve global issues in the areas of energy, agriculture, climate change, among others.
Team manager Kuc Mayur Kuc said apart from the ocean cleaning robot, his group has also built a power generating robot and another one that can pick garbage from the environment.
“It is hard for a country to develop without science. It is time for our young South Sudanese to get the skills and innovations to help their country and lives. We are urging the young people to join the STEM center,” Kuc said.
“We have many challenges as a new country, but we are determined to make the start and use the skills that we have to help our country develop,” he added.