From Chatbots to Online Markets, Africans Craft Weapons Against Coronavirus

Photo: World Health Organization Africa

With chatbots and interactive sites, techies on the well-connected continent are finding new ways to slow the infection rate

From a WhatsApp chatbot to a self-diagnosis tool, Africans are devising mobile tech solutions to contain the spread of the coronavirus amid fears it could have disastrous effects for the continent’s most vulnerable.

Africa has not been as badly hit by coronavirus as other continents so far – with roughly 6,000 people infected, according to a Reuters tally, compared to about 500,000 in Europe.

But experts fear the respiratory disease could have a catastrophic impact on a continent with shaky healthcare systems and where soap and clean water for hand washing are out of reach for many.

Governments, charities and entrepreneurs are racing to tap local knowledge to spread awareness of the virus simply and swiftly, and prevent it from reaching overcrowded, under-resourced slums.

“A majority of Africa’s problems require mostly African solutions, or solutions designed with Africans in mind,” said Wale Adeosun, the chief executive officer of Nigeria-based Wellvis company, an online health information platform.

Which is one reason many of these new tech tools are made for mobile phones. According to the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based think-tank, smartphone use in Africa is growing at a breakneck pace. Read more…


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