Côte d’Ivoire is turning to technology to ensure the ongoing education of and health care provision to its citizens amid the Covid-19 pandemic. After recording its first confirmed case of the virus in March 2020, the country is looking towards innovative solutions as people are staying home to stop the spread of the virus.
On April 6, 2020 the Ministry of National Education, Technical Education and Vocational Training launched free online education courses, giving students access to learning materials via dedicated websites, as well as through Facebook and YouTube. In addition, from April 9, 2020 lessons have been broadcast on television and radio on weekdays.
One of the dedicated platforms utilised by the educational authorities is Etudesk. The Ivorian start-up, which enables academic institutions and businesses to create and host online training programmes, became one of Africa’s first online learning platforms upon its launch in 2016. To support online learning during the pandemic, Etudesk is offering its services to governments across the continent. Within Côte d’Ivoire, the provider is supporting 20 institutions including a primary school, a business school, a management school and a real estate training school. Etudesk is also one of the education platforms hosted on the new local multipurpose app Anticoro, alongside Kiwi Optima, Easy Teach, Numerik4kids and IT4Girls.
Aside from offering education tools, the Anticoro platform, which is accessible via web, Android and iOS, provides a range of solutions useful for dealing with the pandemic, such as e-commerce, digital payment systems and digital health services. It is spearheaded by the Digital Youth Foundation – an organisation promoting digital entrepreneurship – and developed by a collective of 10 homegrown start-ups, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Post.
Leveraging artificial intelligence, the app has a self-screening health function that involves remote temperature reading and a multiple-choice questionnaire. These features, along with access to chatbots and interactive voice services in a variety of local languages, can assist users in need of medical assistance and redirect them to health professionals if necessary. Data on symptoms is collected and shared with the app’s administrators, while the transmission of geolocation information allows for the mapping of at-risk persons, and also enables more accurate contact tracing. This data can be used to help model the Covid-19 threat, facilitate the efficient allocation of resources, and inform prevention and control measures.
Learning from Experience
While West Africa, compared to the rest of the world, may be in the relatively early stages of its response to Covid-19, the region’s recent experience tackling other health crises has equipped it with a baseline of digital tools that can be adapted to the novel coronavirus. “There are technological solutions that could be very useful for the health system to manage aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as they did previously with Ebola,” Eric Kacou, CEO of ESP Partners, told OBG.
Despite this prior experience, however, many of the tools that may lie within the Ivorian armoury have not yet been adopted, and the uptake of these may lag behind other countries in the region. This limited level of digital adoption provides an opportunity for homegrown Ivorian solutions to help mitigate the impact of Covid-19, although they are likely to face competition from international providers.
To improve the effectiveness of these digital solutions, Linda Nanan Vallée, executive director of the Digital Youth Foundation, told OBG that relevant entrepreneurial efforts to counteract the coronavirus should receive “institutional support”.
“It is important that the government analyses available digital solutions to identify which are most effective in slowing down the spread of the virus, and then scales up these solutions effectively,” she added.
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