Early March, towards the end of it, you probably thought COVID-19 was going to get so bad that we would be counting dead bodies on the streets – at least, that’s what world bodies and Melinda Gates still want us to believe.
The inspiration is that Africa hardly has a reliable health system and COVID-19 could be the last of an ailing dog. There’s also the belief that other silent killers could take more lives, owing to the fact that people now avoid health centres for fear of contracting the coronavirus disease. But, as much there’s rising concern for the adverse effects COVID-19 will create (already created), and rising death toll, the claim that dead bodies will litter the streets is unfounded.
Yes, unfortunately, African governments have yet found a way to go around and the sole concern is “reviving the economy” and “understanding the adverse effects for people who live from hand to mouth”. At what point does logical thinking go when it is decided that the economy should be open so it doesn’t die. In simple terms, do we think of enforcing strict measures to ensure the coronavirus doesn’t spread further or we just open the economy and hope that everyone will want to stay healthy?
It’s sad how we handle issues like this on the continent. But, it’s also furtunate the continent’s tech ecosystem can use the opportunity to initiate innovative solutions that will place the continent’s drive towards keeping up with the fourth revolution on a higher pedestal.
Let’s get real.
Africa, or let’s be more specific hardly has any tech-oriented solution that drives home the concepts of ‘financial inclusion’, ‘community development’ or ‘tech for all”. It has always been a barrage of innovation for a few selected – the urbanisers.
At a seminar sometime in 2018, a representative from Microsoft mentioned that the tech giant is finding it hard getting to rural communities. “If there’s anyone here that can help, please do”, was what he said. That’s a commendable – the willingness to do it.
It seems most tech innovators feel it’s the money first, but this pandemic is presenting new opportunities in too many ways.
A way forward
The pandemic has thought us that technology is an indispensable part of our lives, and we can’t only marry it with cultural dictates than say it is the cause of one disaster or another.
Out of school children have more numbers in rural communities and schools have been shut to stop the spread of COVID-19. Now, imagine we had a edtech solution that ensures children stay ed-hydrated. A solution that keeps these in school and enlightened. Seems herculean but attainable.
Or this: farmers get to stay connected with themselves and have an opportunity to share ideas without physically meeting. Simple but it can do more than you can imagine.
No doubt, tech revolution in Nigeria is spreading amazingly, the government can’t even keep up. But we need to learn more to localise innovation; referring again to inclusion for people in rural areas.
With COVID-19, we have seen the importance of staying connected and philanthropy. How about we start from there?
Let’s look at eLearning, realistics financial inclusion, data collection, management and effective use, localised social connection, more medical e-solutions, more e-stores…
Besides, businesses now and post-pandemic should be about solutions, innovation.