ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

How well is the tech ecosystem responding to COVID-19? [ICT Clinic]

What started as a distant terror has now become a reality within reach. The coronavirus disease, codenamed COVID-19, seemed very far away for most of us.

How many Nigerians would have imagined that, in less than three months, several of our cities would go on some variation of a lockdown?

The gumption of some state governments has been commendable, however, irrespective of the intention, the unprecedented restriction of activities in these past few days has caused millions of Nigerians, including myself, to already feel caged.

It breaks my heart to learn of the huge number of deaths being recorded daily across Europe. and now the US.

Every time I read an update, I am quick to say a prayer for Nigeria and the rest of Africa. If we have a full-blown outbreak, how would we cope? What becomes of the everyday citizens of a country that is already shamefully referred to as the poverty capital of the world?

Where would they be treated, where are the ventilators and the beds? How long would the battle between logic and self-sustenance last? How many days can the average Nigerian stay without ‘hustling’ for daily bread, even at risk to his life and that of his loved ones? These thoughts are hard to bear and these are indeed difficult times around the world.

However, as in all periods of uncertainty, these are great times for opportunity. A good number of techies and ecosystem builders are developing tools that can support in the multi-dimensional fight against COVID-19. Here are a few of the initiatives geared towards helping us win:

  • #COVID19 innovation challenge

This challenge is pioneered by Ventures Platform, founded by Kola Aina, in partnership with the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council with support from LoftyInc, ACIOE, Wennovation, Flutterwave, AGS Tribe, SilverChip Consulting, Bluechip Technologies, IROKOtv, Lakunle Runsewe and Manasseh Egedegbe.

The target ideas are around heat mapping, preventive, or, information bots, solutions to assist with lifestyle adjustments, COVID-19 reporting and more. Six winners from the competition will receive a $2,000 equity-free grant opportunity for further funding, as well as, access to virtual workspace and mentorship, from some of Africa’s top healthcare, business and technology leaders, such as, Rebecca Enonchong, Alexis Roman, O.O. Nwoye, Seun Onigbinde, Titi Akinsanmi, Ola Brown, Ifeanyi Nsofor, Ebi Ofrey and Femi Kuti.

Note that as at the time of writing this piece, the selected start-ups have pitched to the judges and the process to decide on the winners is still ongoing.

Getting ready to design & build critical items

We know the lockdown, or slowdown as it were, will not last forever. However, the longer it persists, the more broken the supply and distribution chains will become. This means that we might run out of some important tools at some point or at the very least, they may become much more expensive. Clintonel Innovation Centre is trying to fill this by setting up a — Finish Reading on the Punch

About the author

Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr

CFA hosts Tech Trends on Channels Television, writes the ICT Column in the Punch Newspapers & also blogs on cfagbata.com.

CFA currently serves as the African Regional Director of Founder Institute.

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