TACOMA, Washington — An African phone company and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) will collaborate to create a digital infrastructure to manage COVID-19 vaccinations in at least 55 countries. Vodacom is an African phone company that provides communication services to more than 296 million people in South Africa. The AUDA-NEPAD is a development agency that organizes regional development projects in Africa. The collaboration project will use a mobile technology platform called mVacciNation to oversee the vaccination process. This app will increase the pace at which vaccines become available to more countries. The digital infrastructure found previous success in managing infant vaccinations in South African countries, which include Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria.
Vaccine Rollout in Low-to-Middle-Income Countries
Vaccine doses are coming in at a slower rate for underdeveloped countries. The U.S. Agency for International Development (UNAIDS) reports that only 3% of people in economically developing countries might get vaccinated by June 2021. Additionally, only one-fifth of those countries could be fully vaccinated by the end of 2021. However, there is hope for faster progression. On April 20, 2021, the World Bank announced it was approved financing for $2 billion toward COVID-19 vaccine distributions for 17 developing countries. This funding is part of the $12 billion that will be raised over the next two years to aid developing countries. The funds will help developing countries receive vaccines and strengthen vaccination systems.
COVID-19 vaccines are already being distributed in 212 countries. Funding from the World Bank will help these countries get vaccines, but more countries are still falling behind in receiving vaccinations. Statistics from Our World in Data reveal daily COVID-19 vaccine doses in Africa are significantly less than doses around the world. This statistic shows that underdeveloped countries still need COVID-19 vaccinations.
On April 12, 2021, Vodacom announced that it will collaborate with AUDA-NEPAD to improve the world’s digital health infrastructure. Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, stated that Africa’s digital sector offers great opportunities for partnerships to help “build resilience in the aftermath of COVID-19” and “act as a channel to connect innovators and governments to roll out and localize these solutions.” The app, mVacciNation, will include two main functions, as well as a control tower, to help people get the right vaccine at the right time and place. The supply chain feature will also give real-time information on all available vaccines and medical equipment for health workers on a national level, with supplies and syringes being distributed to them when needed.
The management section of the app will allow people to register on the platform and assign them to available vaccine service points on a specific day and time. The “control tower” will control stock going to specific vaccination centers. Furthermore, digital records are updated after people get vaccinated. They will then get an automatic schedule for an additional dose if needed. App participants will also receive an electronic certification once their vaccination is complete.
Vodacom is Africa’s leading communications company that assists in providing communication services like data, mobile and fixed voice and financial services. Starting in South Africa, Vodacom continues to grow its mobile network business. It now includes networks in other areas, such as Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is a flagship program of the African Union that aims to end poverty, promote growth and sustainable development, integrate Africa into the world and accelerate women empowerment. The two companies’ collaboration will solve the current global vaccination inequality and ensure that every country receives fair treatment.
The world is on a mission to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for every country. With the new vaccination infrastructure created by Vodacom and NEPAD-AU, vaccinations for developing countries will see an acceleration in distribution for all citizens, and the health poverty gap will improve.
– Nia Owens