Leveraging tech in the battle against Covid-19

A taxi moto client does mobile money transactions to pay a motorist to curb the spread of Covid-19. / Craish Bahizi.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up businesses and economies around the world, every tool available globally is being deployed to manage it, including the use of sophisticated digital technologies.

In many parts of the world, information technology has been deployed by authorities mainly for contact tracing, which has been vital in slowing down infection.

 

Within months, the world has been flung into a digital era as businesses seek ways to stay above water and ensure continuity post-crisis.

 

With the current coronavirus pandemic, rapid changes in consumer behaviour and diverse demands are forcing organizations to reinvent their business models in order to enable the delivery of their goods and services online. 

 

For instance, digital payments have now become a critical service.

According to Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, however, technology is a common denominator in mitigating the impact of the pandemic, restoring livelihoods and tackling similar challenges in the future.

“It is clear that the novel coronavirus has led to physical confinement in many parts of the world but enterprises which leverage the power of digital and innovative technologies continue doing business and some are offering financial solutions in the midst of the crisis,” she said.

Similarly, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, the World Health Organization has been cautioning against the use of hard currency and encouraging the use of digital payments. 

This move, experts believe, has prompted African governments and regulators to enforce measures aimed at facilitating more cashless transactions.

African governments have so far used digital technology to help businesses boost online trade, build intelligent networks to support agriculture and food  chain delivery, practice online medical consultations, carry out online job search and provide contactless loans to Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs).

The Government of Rwanda for instance has deployed robots, installed with thermal cameras and facial recognition, and are currently being used for scanning temperatures of people in medical facilities.

Drones have also been deployed in a bid to raise awareness in local communities.

“We believe that leveraging digital transformation during this crisis will save lives and jobs” Serge Tuyimbaze, IT expert and Managing Director, Leapr Labs asserts.

In other instances, Geographic Information Systems and Global Positioning Services have been used to map, identify, capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage and present spatial or geographic data regarding infected persons, people they may have been in contact with, and areas with high prevalence through the real-time visual display of epidemic data. 

eashimwe@newtimesrwanda.com

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