SEATTLE, Washington — The power of mobile technology ranges from more accessible online schooling to improved communication within SMS messaging. More developing nations are embracing internet services and providing communities with work and economic improvements. Advancements in mobile technology in Africa increase the availability of healthcare and education and allow for a quicker response to COVID-19.
In 2011, Africa became the second-largest mobile phone market in the world. Africa underwent a massive transformation due to infrastructure focused on revolutionizing the digital economy. Mobile phone users have easier access to the financial sector through online banking. An increase in phone lines from cities to remote areas has changed businesses.
Tech and Healthcare
Africa has a massive lack of infrastructure for healthcare services. Many countries have very few doctors available as well as slow progression in medical technology. Digital healthcare improved the lives of people all over the continent. In rural communities, some hospitals are a 20-hour walk away. Mobile technology in Africa helps communities that have difficulty with transportation to local hospitals. Around 70% of the world’s HIV cases are based in Africa alone. As organizations raise social awareness for AIDS, the stigmas against the illness will decrease. Implemented social media tactics and text messaging services are directly available to those who have questions about HIV/AIDs.
Kenya’s Mobile Phone Exposure Prophylaxis (mPEP) launched in 2013 along with mHealth to track HIV testing. Healthcare workers can know where to go for testing and when to pick up a testing kit through their phones. Along with Text for Life, communities can receive notifications for blood donations.
Apps like HiDoctor and Triage provide free and affordable access to health information in Nigeria and Liberia. Direct communication from doctor to patient is available through an estimated 40,000 mobile health apps. Self-monitoring of symptoms through phone cameras go hand-in-hand with medication refills. Expecting mothers can also plan pregnancies and receive information on how to care for themselves through each stage of their pregnancies with apps like MomConnect.
Tech and Education
Mobile technology in Africa helps lessen disparities in education. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 40% of youth ages 15-17 are enrolled in school. Another third of kids ages 12-14 are out of school. Mobile tools like tablets provide easier access to education for children. Nine countries received 600,000 Kindle-like notebooks through the One Laptop per Child program, which distributed laptops to thousands of kids in 2005.
Ghanian children access online libraries through e-readers while South African students can receive math tutoring in seconds with SMS texts. MXit allows readers to access novels, plays and poetry online. Cybersmart Education helps teachers train using mobile phones in Senegal.
Eneza Education provides students in Kenya, Ghana and the Ivory Coast with quizzes tailored to their ages and skill levels. In East Africa, Kio Kit and SupaBRCK use 3G hotspot and WiFi to connect children with various educational content. Ubongo in Tanzania provides kids with fun educational learning through television, radio and apps. In neighboring countries, multiple apps provide children with coding experience, financial advice and exposure to different languages.
Tech and COVID-19
By May 5, cases of COVID-19 in Africa rose to “29,463 and 1,079 deaths.” Mobile technology in Africa is slowly combatting COVID-19 in various ways. A company in Nigeria created Triage Tool for individuals to assess their symptoms and risks. WhatsApp in South Africa aids communication about the virus. The job force is struggling to keep the economy afloat, so apps like Market Garden help “vendors sell and deliver” produce. The government uses mobile phones to educate the public and trace those who potentially have the disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO), the African Development Bank and several other organizations are using social media to spread awareness about COVID-19. Innovating solutions, like social media and Zoom, are benefiting Africa during COVID-19. They provide funding and accurate data about preventing and fighting the disease. Businesses are taking advantage of mobile transactions to reduce the spread of the virus through physical currency. M-Pesa went further to eliminate fees for smaller transactions as well as increase the number of transactions made within a day.
Countries like Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan set up mobile laboratories coupled with testing to aid doctors. Senegal has adapted well by establishing faster response teams toward illness reports. Similar applications developed to tackle the Ebola outbreak are also being implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apps have also been updated from the Ebola outbreak to accommodate several countries.
When a nation can connect with its people, not only do job opportunities arise but so does national morale. Mobile technology in Africa brings further access to internet usage and economic resources. Having the ability to provide individuals and businesses with efficient two-way communication will improve the entire continent’s functionality.
– Sydney Stokes