The covid-19 pandemic has immeasurably disrupted the economy in the last year including galvanizing never seen before industry-leading technology innovations.
For example in healthcare, more than 120 health technology innovations were adopted in Africa in 2020 to offer solutions to the ravaging covid-19 effects in the continent. Some of the innovations target areas included, surveillance, contact tracing, community engagement, treatment, laboratory system and infection, prevention and control.
Research by WHO says, 57.8 per cent of the innovations were ICT driven whereas 25 per cent were based on 3D printing and 10.9 per cent were robotics. The ICT innovations majorly included WhatsApp chatbots in South Africa, self-diagnostic tool in Angola, contact tracing in Ghana and mobile health information tools in Nigeria with South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda leading in innovations.
While covid-19 has presented some of the greatest challenges ever faced globally, technology innovations brought about by the pandemic have since influenced the ease of access to products and services throughout the pandemic period.
For instance in Kenya, during the lockdowns and curfew hours, the emerging tech innovations allow us to continue accessing such services as medication with online doctors and door to door deliveries of products to sustain our livelihoods. The major innovations witnessed include:
Digital connectivity and digital skills
The covid-19 disruptions widened digital connectivity in the country during the pandemic. The countrywide lockdowns and curfews that were introduced led to a growling demand for technology solutions. Companies and large corporations moved their staff to work from home to deliver their services. We also witnessed schools shift to zoom classes to continue with their studies. Entertainment joints shifted to people watching movies’ from home on Netflix and other on demand movie sites, thus making digital connectivity paramount.
President Uhuru launched Project loon, an Alphabet Inc. subsidiary working on providing Internet access to rural and remote areas a partnership with Telkom Kenya that was set to provide connectivity across the country.
Health care solution startups also geared up to offer online deliveries to enable Kenyans to purchase medicine at the comfort of their homes and book medical appointments online to limit social interactions in the country.
Web based X-ray lung scans
There have been various innovations that would bear fruit in finding the solutions to the covid-19 pandemic. Engineers in Tunisia came up with web-based x-ray lung scans to determine if persons are suffering from coronavirus.
When an X-ray is uploaded onto the platform, it runs a test to detect signs of possible coronavirus infection. Researchers at the National Institute of Applied Science and Technology in Tunis say the tool is 90 per cent effective in indicating the probability of infection.
Rapid-65 minute testing kit
At the onset of the pandemic, covid-19 testing would take up to three days to show the results of a patient which meant more danger to those surrounding patients without knowing their status.
The rapid-65 minute testing kit launched by South African entrepreneurs would only take 65 minutes to detect infections thus aiding in reducing the risk of spreading the infection to other people.
Online delivery services
As part of the response to the health crisis in the country, eCommerce service providers also went a notch higher in providing services including groceries online. Twiga foods and Jumia for instance partnered to deliver agricultural products to vendors in urban areas during the lockdown.
There are far much more innovations that were discovered during the pandemic that is yet to be documented but still provided immense solutions in mitigating the virus. For instance, remote working learning has been in existence for ages but very few startups and freelancers had adopted it until the pandemic. Now we have companies operating fully remotely.