Chatbots And Online Markets: Africans Fight Coronavirus Using Mobile Technology

Chatbots And Online Markets: Africans Fight Coronavirus Using Mobile Technology

Chatbots and online markets: How African health experts are fighting coronavirus on the continent using mobile technology. Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

From WhatsApp chatbots to self-diagnosis tools, 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.

From IOL. Story by Kim Harrisberg.

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 like chatbots 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.

In sub-Saharan Africa, about one-third of people had access to a smartphone in 2018 – more than double the number four years earlier. And that figure is expected to double again by 2025.

“The best solutions are those designed from the user’s perspective and with their inputs,” Adeosun told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In Nigeria, Adeosun’s company Wellvis created the COVID-19 Triage Tool, a free online tool to help users self-assess their coronavirus risk category based on their symptoms and their exposure history.

Depending on their answers, users will be offered remote medical advice or redirecting to a nearby healthcare facility.

Read more at IOL.